Sheriff: 3 arrested for feeding children just ground beef, cereal under locked door

The Jackson County Sheriff said three adults have been arrested in connection with a child neglect case. (Source: WSAZ)
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 3:02 PM CDT
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RIPLEY, W. Va. (WSAZ/Gray News) - Three people are facing charges stemming from a case of child neglect in West Virginia.

Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger said the case involves three children at a home, including 2-year-old twin boys.

According to the sheriff, his department was notified Monday evening of an unresponsive 2-year-old at an apartment on Meadowlark Lane.

The sheriff said when deputies arrived, the boy was unconscious. He was taken to a nearby hospital before being flown to another hospital in Morgantown for treatment.

Medical staff reported that the child was extremely malnourished and dehydrated.

“We hope the child survives and can pull through this,” Mellinger said.

The children’s parents, Michael and Lylee Gillenwater, are accused of self-medicating the kids to get them to sleep.

A third adult, Brian Casto, also lived in the apartment and has been arrested.

“It’s just amazing to me that animals like this still exist,” Mellinger said.

According to Mellinger, the three adults would keep the twins locked in a bedroom in their diapers for days, and they were given pieces of ground beef and cereal under the door.

“The average barnyard animal would probably provide better parental care and nurture than what these kids were afforded,” he said.

Corey Adkins, a neighbor and parent himself, said it’s hard to comprehend children being treated this way.

“It makes me angry and upset,” Adkins said. “Doing that to your children? I feel like they need to be in prison.”

The suspects were booked into jail on $150,000 bonds.

According to the sheriff, the boy has improved with stable vital signs at the hospital, but the child still has a lot of medical hurdles to clear.

The boy’s twin and an older female child were also removed from the home, Mellinger said.