Woman who locked 9-year-old girl in basement gets seven years in prison

04/25/2014 3:30 PM

04/25/2014 9:26 PM

A Kansas City woman who admitted locking a 9-year-old girl in the basement of a Blue Summit house, giving the child little food and denying her bathroom privileges, was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison.

Lacey A. Chaney, 28, pleaded guilty in January to endangering the welfare of a child. Her sentence matched the prosecutor’s request. Chaney sobbed and lowered her head after the sentence was announced. She was immediately taken into custody.

The girl’s father, Timothy A. Phillips, 30, pleaded guilty on Thursday to endangering the welfare of a child. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 12.

Last May, the girl told authorities that she had been locked in the basement and given little food or water as punishment for a school suspension. She had been denied use of the bathroom after being blamed for giving Chaney a rash.

Detective Penny Cole of the Jackson County sheriff’s office testified Friday that the walls and floor of the basement where the child was forced to stay were damp and contained mold. The unfinished basement was covered in dirt and lit by a single bulb.

Detectives found separate notes reflecting that the child apparently was ordered to repeatedly write, “I will take pride in what I look like. I will clean myself.”

The girl had also been sleeping on an air mattress in the dingy basement for three months, said Erika Lawler, an assistant Jackson County prosecutor.

The child’s grandmother testified she tried to intervene but said Phillips and Chaney, who was Phillips’ girlfriend and not the child’s mother, turned her away. The grandmother said that the child said she was afraid to be alone.

“Prison would be paradise based on where my granddaughter was forced to live,” the woman sobbed.

The girl had been sent to the nurse’s office at Korte Elementary School in western Independence because she smelled strongly of urine. The girl told the nurse that her “private parts” hurt. The nurse noted redness and irritation on the girl’s vaginal area.

A school nurse told investigators she went to the couple’s home in the 1900 block of Hazel Avenue last May to talk to Phillips and Chaney.

The girl later told the hospital staff that she could not remember the last time she was allowed to use her home’s restroom.

Chaney told Jackson County sheriff’s deputies that she had forced the girl to urinate and defecate outside for three weeks because the child had been blamed for giving the girlfriend a rash by using the same toilet. The girl went outside through a broken basement door.

Lawler said the child used a small Tinker Bell blanket to shield herself when she relieved herself outdoors. The blanket was stained with dirt, urine and fecal matter, Lawler said.

The couple lied to a social worker with the Missouri Children’s Division who had visited the home to check on the child, Lawler said. Neighbors told investigators they noticed the girl sometimes waited for lengthy periods for her school bus while wearing insufficient clothing.

Phillips and Chaney told investigators that they had locked the girl in the basement because of bladder control issues, but also as punishment for a recent school suspension.

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