ANCHORAGE (AP) A Fort Richardson couple is accused of long-term abuse that left their 4-year-old daughter starving and dehydrated, authorities said Friday.
Anchorage police said Army specialist Anthony Kirkland failed to protect the girl as Juanita Kirkland withheld food and water, locked her in a dark bedroom and locked the refrigerator to keep her from sneaking food. When the alleged abuse came to light in mid-February, the girl weighed 22 pounds, about half the usual amount for a child her age.
Juanita Kirkland, 25, and Anthony Kirkland, 24, were charged Wednesday with one count each of first-degree assault. They were arrested the same day and released after each posted $2,500 bail.
The couple is scheduled for a May 20 arraignment in District Court in Anchorage. They could not be reached for comment Friday, but Richardson officials said Anthony Kirkland remains on duty at the fort's supply room and the couple's two other children have been removed from their custody.
Because the allegations involve a civilian, Army officials turned the case over to Anchorage police, fort spokesman Chuck Canterbury said.
According to the criminal complaint, the child was taken to the Elmendorf Air Force Base hospital Feb. 13 with symptoms of severe malnutrition and dehydration. Juanita Kirkland told doctors the girl had fallen and hit her head the previous day and was dazed and off-balance.
The girl, referred to as CK'' in court documents, was transferred to Providence Alaska Medical Center.
According to the complaint, doctors said the girl's condition was the result of severe, life-threatening child abuse and that she was so dehydrated she had extremely high sodium levels and suffered from shock brought on by decreased water content.'' A nurse practitioner said CK told her that her mother didn't allow her to have water when she wanted it.
The examining doctor said that barring a rare undiagnosed condition, CK was either the victim of a poisoning or her elevated sodium levels were due to water deprivation over an extended period of time, thus her body was unable to flush itself of toxins,'' the complaint states.
Initially, Juanita Kirkland denied knowing the cause of CK's condition and said her daughter was a picky eater, authorities said.
Army investigators searched the couple's home that day and found sufficient food. They also found a latch-type lock on the door of CK's bedroom as well as windows covered with foil and a sheet.
A neighbor told an investigator that whenever the child came over to visit, all she wanted to do was eat and drink,'' the complaint states.
On Feb. 14, Juanita Kirkland acknowledged to military investigators that she was the cause of CK's condition and said she began denying her food and water midway through her last pregnancy. That child is now four months old.
I knew what I was doing was wrong and I tried to stop but I couldn't seem to stop,'' Juanita Kirkland said, according to the complaint.
Anthony Kirkland told investigators he was aware that his wife was punishing the children more,'' but they were arguing more than usual and she threatened to have him removed from the home, so he didn't know how to stop her. Anthony Kirkland later told authorities he also deprived CK of food and water.
The child weighed almost 28 pounds when she was released from Providence Feb. 21. While still hospitalized, she told police and Richardson investigators that she was so thirsty she drank water out of the toilet one night when her door wasn't locked.
In his criminal complaint, police Sgt. Dave Parker wrote that he asked CK, How come you were thirsty that night?''
Because mommie didn't give me nothing,'' the child replied. She didn't give me water or anything.''
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