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Boyfriend of woman accused of barricading girl in closet is held on $100,000 bond

Marcus R. Benson makes his first court appearance on child endangerment counts. Lower bond is denied.

By CHRISTINE VENDEL
The Kansas City Star

For more than a week, police looked for the boyfriend of a woman accused of barricading her 10-year-old malnourished daughter in a closet.

They found him Thursday night.

Police received a tip that Marcus R. Benson, 35, was inside a home in the 2400 block of South Sterling Avenue in Independence.

After officers knocked on the door, a woman said Benson was not there. But police saw insulation debris on the floor, suggesting that someone may have recently opened the attic. They found Benson hiding inside.

Police also arrested Ashley N. Shaw, accusing her of interfering with police and lying to them about Benson’s presence.

Benson appeared in court Friday for the first time to face two felony counts of child endangerment. He is accused of failing to feed and failing to seek medical treatment for his girlfriend’s daughter, known in court records as LP.

As police led him into court, he wore a black polo shirt and green shorts and he was handcuffed to two other men.

The judge entered a routine not guilty plea for him. His attorney asked the judge to lower the $100,000 bond, saying Benson doesn’t pose a threat to the community. The prosecutor objected, saying Benson is accused of serious crimes. The judge denied the request.

A man and woman showed up in court to support Benson, and the woman waved to Benson as he was led away. They declined to comment after the brief hearing.

After social workers received a tip on a child abuse hotline, police rescued LP last month from the apartment closet where she lived in her own waste in the 1300 block of Highland Avenue.

The girl weighed just 32 pounds, less than half the average weight for her age. She was home alone. Her mother had taken her two younger sisters to breakfast.

Police later found and arrested the mother, Jacole Prince. Police also arrested Benson, but they released him after he said he was unaware of any abuse.

But a police investigation showed he knew about LP’s tragic situation, according to prosecutors who charged Benson last week. Court records alleged he practically lived at the apartment, watched all three girls when Prince was away and slipped LP a hamburger and fries.

Court records released Friday said Benson returned to the apartment after Prince was arrested and shouted angrily about neighbors who had talked to the police.

According to one witness, Benson said: “That’s her child. Not mine. I don’t have anything to do with it. Why should I care what she do?”

To reach Christine Vendel, call 816-234-4438 or send email to cvendel@kcstar.com.

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