Three charged in case of child neglect

The Jackson County Sheriff said three adults have been arrested in connection with a child neglect case. (Source: WSAZ)
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 10:38 PM EDT
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RIPLEY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Three people are facing charges in a disturbing case of child neglect in Ripley.

Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger says it involves 2-year-old twin boys.

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

Mellinger says his department was notified Monday evening of an unresponsive 2-year-old at an apartment on Meadowlark Lane.

“They’d basically been locked in a hell-on-earth type situation,” Mellinger said.

The sheriff says when deputies arrived, the boy was unconscious. The child was taken to a hospital in Ripley and then to a Charleston hospital before being flown to a hospital in Morgantown.

Medical staff said he was extremely malnourished and dehydrated.

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

The sheriff says the 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.

The sheriff says 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 nurturing than what these kids were afforded through the three adults living in this home,” Mellinger said.

Corey Adkins lives nearby and is a parent himself. He says 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 for that. That’s not right. I pray the child is OK.”

The suspects were taken to the South Central Regional Jail on bonds of $150,000.

The sheriff says the boy who was flown to Morgantown improved to stable condition but still has a lot of hurdles to clear medically.

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