A Kansas City mother accused of barricading her severely malnourished 10-year-old daughter in a closet appeared in Jackson County Circuit Court today for the first time.
Jacole Prince, 29, remained calm and expressionless during the brief hearing. She faces charges of assault, child abuse and child endangerment for allegedly confining the girl in the closet, failing to properly feed her and failing to seek medical treatment for her. The judge entered a routine not-guilty plea for Prince and asked if she could afford an attorney. In a barely audible voice, Prince said she could not and the judge ordered a public defender screening.
The judge gave Prince a $200,000 cash-only bond and set her next court appearance for July 12.
Meanwhile, Prince’s daughter remains hospitalized for treatment. When police found her Friday morning locked in an apartment closet in the 1300 block of Highland Avenue, she 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, ages 2 and 8, out to breakfast. Officers later arrested Prince and took her other daughters into protective custody. The other girls were clean and well-fed, by all accounts.
Investigators said they don’t know why the 10-year-old girl apparently was singled out for abuse. They also don’t know the extent of her physical and developmental delays after the significant amount of time she apparently spent confined. It was unclear when she last attended school.
The girl wasn’t allowed regular meals or access to a restroom, according to court records. She lived amid her own waste, police said.
Police and state child welfare workers went to the apartment Friday after someone made a child abuse hotline call.
Investigators described the girl as exceptionally sweet. She tried to maintain a smile the entire time she talked to police. “She seemed to really want to please everyone,” said Sgt. Roy Murry.Police were trying to determine whether the girl’s biological father is alive.