A mother who allegedly kept her severely autistic and non-verbal daughter in cage has been arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse.
Melissa Doss, 42, is accused of locking her nine-year-old daughter in a homemade cage made of metal and wood at night time to “keep her inside the house” and prevent her from hurting herself.
The disturbing conditions were uncovered after the girl managed to climb over the fence of the home in Palm Bay, Florida, and was discovered by neighbours on their patio.
The neighbours called police, who described the girl as non-verbal, CBS Miami reported.
Doss reportedly told police she didn’t know how the girl escaped and refused to let officers enter her home.
When they returned the following day, she eventually let them inside where they found squalid conditions.
In a police report, officers stated the house smelled strongly of faeces and urine, and was covered with “trash, bugs of all kinds, spiders and flies”.
No part of the floor was visible throughout the home, and parts of the roof were missing. None of the bathrooms appeared to be in working order either, local news outlets reported.
A blanket and pillow were found in the cage, which was found next to a bed that Doss reportedly shares with another child.
According to police, the cage was large enough to fit a twin size bed.
Police arrested Doss on Sunday and charged her with aggravated child abuse and child neglect. Her bond has been set at $20,000 (A$27,000).
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