CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (WDVM/WHTM) — A Chambersburg woman is facing charges after a 16-year-old nonverbal boy was found severely malnourished inside her home, weighing only 26 pounds.
Elisabet Estrada, 41, is charged with felony counts of aggravated assault and child endangerment after the Franklin County Children and Youth Services notified police.
Chambersburg police responded to a home on Kelhigh Drive to assist Children and Youth Services on Oct. 24 and discovered the boy.
The 16-year-old boy was admitted to Hershey Medical Center, weighing just 26 pounds. Children and Youth responded to the address to check the welfare of siblings and set up a “safety plan” if necessary. According to police, the other siblings in the home were in good condition.
Court documents show the teen weighed 22 pounds when he was three years old, and just 26 pounds at age 16. Investigators say in all the years in between, the child had no doctor appointments or medical care.
“The family lives internally amongst each other,” said Det. Sgt. Jon Greenawalt of the Chambersburg Police Department. “The mother and four children … by the mother’s statements, they don’t have a lot of contact outside the home. They were schooled at home through the mother.”
Police say the other siblings were healthy.
“One of the other children is in foster care and two for the other children are actually legal age adult,” said Greenawalt.
Children and Youth Services reported the mother hadn’t used any therapy or early intervention services since 2005.
So investigators say when Estrada brought her son to the doctor, Penn State Health reported it to Franklin County Children and Youth Services, which got the police involved.
“He was emaciated,” Greenawalt said. “He was obviously malnourished and underweight.”
The child “ruminated his food,” as if he didn’t have the ability to get food at home. When he had food, he regurgitated and re-ate it, according to police.
Doctors told investigators the teen was three and a half feet tall because he was malnourished. They diagnosed him with psychosocial dwarfism: a disorder caused by extreme deprivation or stress.
According to court documents, the victim remained at Hershey Medical Center until Dec. 2. He gained 2.2 pounds during his first two days and weighed 45 pounds at the time of his discharge. He’s currently in foster care.
Estrada was put in Franklin County Jail on Jan. 17 on $25,000 bail.