10-year-old died weighing 39 pounds likened to “a Holocaust victim”

Randall Abney, 51, and Susan Abney, 44, of Salem, Missouri. [Image credit: Dent County Jail]

A Sergeant with the Dent County Sheriff's Office responded to a call to the Salem residence of Randall and Susan Abney on October 3 for a call of an unresponsive child.


According to the initial report, the family was sitting down to dinner just before 6:30 pm when the girl reported that she did not feel well and collapsed.


When the officer arrived, he found an emaciated 10-year-old girl later identified as Josie Ann Abney.  He began preforming life saving measures on her until the paramedics arrived to take over care and transport her to the hospital.


Barely an hour later, she was declared to be deceased.


According to the probable cause statement, Josie was described as being emaciated to the point that the bones in her chest, shoulders, collarbones and hips were visible saying "she appeared like a Holocaust victim."


She was additionally reported to have busing on both of her temples, her chest, arms, and hands, and a wound across the bridge of her nose.


Josie was so dehydrated that it was not possible for medical workers in the emergency room to draw blood. A small sample that they were able to obtain revealed that her blood sugar was 10, well below the normal fasting range for a child of 80-180.


The Dent County deputy coroner stated that the girl, including a blanket, medical equipment that was still attached to her, and the body bag that she had been placed into weighed in at a total of 39.8 pounds.  A healthy 10-year-old is supposed to weigh between 70 and 75 pounds.


51-year-old Randall and 44-year-old Susan are said to have initially agreed to speak with officers and to have given permission for them to search the residence.


What they found was that there was a lock on the refrigerator and while Randall stated that Josie was able to open the lock and had free access to it, the deputy that tried the lock found it difficult to open and doubted that a weakened child would be able to work the lock at all.  Non-perishable foods were found stored in cabinets outside her reach also fitted with child locks.


When officers asked about Josie's living quarters, they reported that “there was a long pause and no answer.” They found the room with a lock on the exterior and an alarm.  Inside there was just a mattress, a lamp, and a clothes basket.  The closets were also reported to be locked according to KSDK.


Inside of the bedroom of Randall and Susan however, was a dresser that was stocked with all kinds of junk food including cookies, brownies and snack bars.


Josie was reportedly adopted by the Abney's in 2013 at the age of 3 and was the first of 12 or 13 foster children to filter through the home over the years.  Randall stated that she had stopped eating in the past for periods of time before once again beginning to eat.   He alleged that she had stopped eating this time, towards the end of September.


When asked why Josie had not been taken for medical attention Susan responded saying, "I don't know.   My own stupidity."  She reported that "I was too scared of what they would think."


She is said to have also responded with "Me and Randy" when asked who was responsible for Josie's death.


They were both asked about the lock found on the exterior of Josie's room.  Randall allegedly told investigators that the lock was like that when they moved into the house and did not use it to lock Josue into the room.


Susan however, told that Josie would often be locked into the room citing examples of when she or Randall would check the mail or garden outside.  The reason she gave was that there was a firearm in the home.


Susan and Randall have both been charged with one count of abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death.  Their bonds were set at $500,000 and they were booked into the Dent County Jail.  They are both due to appear back in court on October 29.