A 12-year-old girl has died because she went untreated for head lice while living in a rundown home with her parents, investigators say.
Kaitlyn Yozviak, from Wilkinson County in the US state of Georgia, died last month.
Her parents, Mary Katherine “Katie” Horton, and Joey Yozviak have been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree child cruelty. They will face a grand jury.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Ryan Hilton testified medical records show Kaitlyn died from cardiac arrest with a secondary cause being severe anaemia, WMAZ-TV reported.
The GBI earlier said the girl suffered “excessive physical pain due to medical negligence”, although the autopsy results were not yet complete.
Mr Hilton testified at the time of her death, Kaitlyn had “the most severe” lice infestation the GBI’s office had ever seen, and it may have lasted on and off for at least three years.
He said he believed repeated bites from the lice lowered her blood iron levels, which likely caused the anaemia, and may have triggered the cardiac attack.
Her mother also told investigators Kaitlyn had not bathed in the last week and a half before she died.
When agents got to the home in August, the inside was filthy and in disrepair, with vermin covering the mattress, stuffed animals and other furniture in Kaitlyn’s room, Mr Hilton said.
Neighbours told agents they hadn’t seen Kaitlyn playing around the house for the last month and a half to two months before her death.
Georgia Division of Family and Children Services documents show Kaitlyn’s two brothers were removed from Horton and Yozviak’s home because of unsanitary conditions.
In 2008, DFCS opened another case around the time Kaitlyn was born after the parents decided not to give her up for adoption.
The agency didn’t receive any reports on the family until 2018 where files show a call indicating the home was “bug-infested, (with) excessive cats, and hazardous conditions”.
Kaitlyn was briefly placed with her aunt and returned to her parents’ home six days later.
The agency didn’t hear from the family again until after she died. The last entry in the file is heavily redacted and concerns a conversation between GBI and child welfare authorities.
GBI agent Mary Chandler told WMAZ-TV “this condition of a child is the worst we’ve ever seen”.
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