OCS Placed Children with Accused Abusers
Wasilla couple charged with extreme abuse of 5 adopted kids
Wednesday, September 15, 2004 - by Warren Williamson
Wasilla, Alaska - A Wasilla couple is under arrest, charged with abuse and kidnapping. Patrick and Sherry Kelley are behind bars. The victims, according to police, are their own adopted children, five of them.
The details of the allegations are almost too hard to believe. Troopers say the kids were kept as virtual slaves, subjected to years of abuse beyond comprehension.
“We’ve got this injured child, with injuries that extended back quite a number of months and were serious enough that they required significant medical care,” said investigator Matt Leveque.
“Without going into the details of the environment these children were in, what I do know is that one of our transcriptionists that needed to work through the typing of these interviews had to take frequent breaks,” Leveque said. “And this is a transcriptionist that’s exposed to difficult material all the time. These children were in bad straits.”
According to charging documents, 43-year-old Patrick Kelley and his 35-year-old wife, Sherry, lived in a remote area off Misty Lake Road, along with five children -- three girls ages 15, 14 and 6, and two boys ages 13 and 10.
Charging documents say the Kelleys mentally and physically tortured the children, used them for manual labor and would punish them severely for disobedience.
The report says the Kelleys consistently beat the children with their fists, metal pipes and, in one case, a shovel. Investigators say the couple even built a gated door with an alarm inside the family’s mobile home to hold the children captive.
“It wasn’t until July when our troopers got there related to this verbal altercation happening on the property that we were able to determine, holy mackerel, the verbal altercation is the least of the problems here,” Leveque said.
The Kelleys' land borders the home of the children’s grandparents, George and Shirley Long. Troopers interviewed Long and said it was obvious that he knew his daughter had an anger problem and there was some level of abuse occurring against the children.
Troopers say it was Long who called in the argument that led officers to the property last July. Seeing how malnourished and beaten up the children were, troopers immediately took them into custody.
The children reportedly did not wish to talk to the officers, apparently out of fear of what the parents might do.
Eventually, the troopers were able to gain their trust and hear their stories of what the Kelleys had done to them. A report from the investigation says the living conditions were among the worst the officer had ever seen.
“The mistreatment of these children is profound,” said Leveque (left). “And it’s disturbing. And we’re happy in the respect that we were able to go ahead and work with the Office of Children’s Services to get these children removed from that environment.”
Court documents tell of skin missing to the bone on one child, of maggots living in another child's open burn wound since February, and all the children suffering malnutrition.
Troopers also say that, at one point, one of the children stole food from the grandparents’ home and was beaten, thrown into a pond and denied food for five days afterward.
Now, more than two months later, the Kelleys are both behind bars, facing charges of kidnapping and assault. The charges could bring the couple up to 20 years in jail.
Troopers say some of the children were forced to sleep in three beat-up vans without heat or food. They also say the two boys were forced to wear thongs made out of an onion sack as punishment for eating.
The children told troopers they haven’t been to school since 2001, so there was no opportunity for anyone to witness the described abuse.
School books scattered around the property indicate that the children were supposedly being homeschooled.
Relatives angry at children's abuse
Thursday, September 16, 2004 - by Megan Baldino
More tonight on the disturbing case of child abuse alleged against Patrick and Sherry Kelley of Wasilla, who reportedly treated their five adopted children like slaves.
Biological relatives of three of the five children say they wanted custody. Instead the state placed the children into what Alaska State Troopers describe as a world of abuse and bondage.
Like so many people, sisters Rhonda Buchanan and Renee Carroll want some answers -- How could this happen?
Like the rest of the state, Buchanan and Carroll sat stunned listening to the horrific news reports about five children who reportedly suffered long-term abuse at the hands of their adoptive parents, the Kelleys.
According to troopers, the children sometimes were not fed, at least one was chained to a tree for five days, and all were forced to work like slaves.
Unlike most viewers, however, Buchanan and Carroll know three of the children personally. “The three oldest kids are our full blood,” they say.
The two women are the children’s biological aunts. After speaking briefly about the case, they referred most questions to their lawyer,+.
“They're upset. Not any more than I would expect under the circumstances,” Kirk said. “If the allegations as we've heard them are true, this is just a horrific case.”
Kirk said he is representing Buchanan and will be contacting the state Office of Children's Services to help her get in touch with her nieces and nephews, one of which was once in her care. The state later gave custody to the Kelleys.
Buchanan says she fought for custody, but that the state convinced her that the Kelleys were good parents, so she let her niece go. Now the sisters want all three children back.
“One of the things we don't know was how much information the state had,” Kirk said. “Did they know about some of these things? Were there obvious warning signs? They don't know. It may be that these folks were just very good at pulling the wool over peoples’ eyes. Or it may be the social worker was grossly negligent. It's way too early to tell.”
Marcia Kennai, deputy commissioner of OCS, says state law prohibits her from commenting on this or any other OCS case. But she says adoptive parents go through a strict licensing process and that any time abuse is reported it’s taken seriously.
“Whenever children are harmed, we are always concerned about that,” Kennai said. “Whenever there are allegations of any kind, we are concerned and we conduct investigations.”
As the state does its job, Kirk says he will do his. The immediate objective, he says, is to get the kids into a safe and loving home.
The Kelleys are expected to be in court Friday, and Buchanan says she intends to be there.
There has been no word from relatives of the other two children involved in the case.
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Relatives angry at children's abuse - Patrick and Sherry Kelley of Wasilla are in jail, charged with extreme cruelty to five children they'd adopted. Now the aunts of three of those children are wondering why the state denied them custody of the kids, but apparently thought the Kelleys were good adoptive parents.
Police release name of man killed in car accident - Anchorage police have identified the man killed in a car wreck on Bragaw Street. According to police, 47-year-old Vincent Morrison died after he ran a red light and was struck by a pickup truck.
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Car chase through Juneau injures 2 police officers - Two police officers suffered minor injuries after a chase in Juneau. Officials say a 35-year-old man was stopped for traffic violations. He responded by leading officers on a chase through Juneau.
Wasilla couple charged with extreme abuse of 5 adopted kids - A Valley couple is behind bars, charged with years of subjecting their five adopted children to slave-like conditions, forcing them to sleep in unheated vans and punishing them for stealing food. Troopers arrested Patrick and Sherry Kelley, and the children were taken into state custody.
It's Thursday, September 16, 2004
Valley Couple Accused of Severely Abusing Adopted Children
Sep 16, 2004, 11:00:00
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Alaska State Troopers have arrested a Wasilla couple accused of severely abusing their five adopted children. Troopers say 35-year-old Sherry Ann Kelley and 43-year-old Patrick Leon Kelley chained the children to trees, deprived them of food and hit them with steel pipes, metal bars and fists. The children are between the ages of six and 15.
Charging documents say the children were forced to sleep in abandoned vehicles on the Kelley property, without running water or heat.
The Kelleys are charged with multiple counts of kidnapping and felony assault. They are being held without bail at the Mat-Su Pretrial facility in Palmer. The Kelleys were arrested Monday after a two-month investigation. According to troopers, the children also were forced to work all night, kept in confinement and never enrolled in school. Troopers say the state Office of Child Services has taken custody of the children. Top of Page