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Crime

Iowa Teen Girl Who Starved to Death in Adoptive Mom’s Home Was Allegedly Found in Diapers, Lying in Waste

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Recently unsealed court documents allege that the final days of a 16-year-old Iowa girl who died five months ago from starvation were even worse than initially reported.

According to multiple news outlets, an arrest affidavit alleges an emaciated Natalie Finn was found unresponsive and wearing adult diapers when police responded to an emergency call at her adoptive mom’s home on Oct. 24. (PEOPLE has not been able to independently obtain the court documents.)

The teen girl was not breathing and was lying on the waste-covered linoleum floor of her unfurnished bedroom, according to the Des Moines Register. Police believe the girl had been lying in her own excrement “for some time,” the affidavit alleges, according to the paper.

The affidavit, according to the Register, alleges that the home in which Natalie spent her last moments “reeked of both human and animal waste.” The floor of the bedroom she shared with two of her siblings was allegedly covered with blankets that were “heavily soaked” in what officers believed was urine.

The room had no beds or furniture, according to the paper.

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“Many animals roamed freely, including well over a dozen kittens and cats,” the affidavit reportedly reads. “There were numerous kennels with dogs scattered inside the residence.”

KCRG reports the search warrant contains details about investigators’ interviews with three surviving Finn children; two allegedly had bedsores and were deemed to be underweight by medical professionals.

Court records obtained by PEOPLE confirm Natalie’s adoptive parents, 42-year-old Nicole Finn and 46-year-old Joseph Finn, have been in police custody since their arrests in December.

Nicole faces a charge of first-degree murder for Natalie’s death and several other felony charges — including kidnapping and child endangerment — for her alleged treatment of two of Natalie’s siblings, a 15-year-old boy and a 14-year-old sister.

Nicole Finn in court in January 2017.
Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP

All three children were adopted, according to authorities.

Joseph, who is Finn’s ex-husband, has been charged with kidnapping, neglect or abandonment and child endangerment, court records state.

Both pleaded not guilty in January, according to the Register. PEOPLE’s calls to Nicole’s lawyer, Jennifer Larson, and Joseph’s lawyer, James Cook, were not immediately returned.

Trials for both parents are scheduled for October.

Natalie’s official cause of death was emaciation, which was attributed to denial of critical care.

The Register reports the affidavit says police and child protective workers found “ample” food in Natalie’s home during a welfare check in August.

Joseph Finn in court in January 2017.
Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP

According to KCCI, child welfare workers determined Natalie was choosing not to eat, even though they had been told her mother was depriving her of food.

Officials determined the allegations of abuse at the home were unfounded, but they never pursued physical examinations of the children, KCCI reports.

The Register, citing the arrest affidavit, reports that Nicole allegedly told investigators she tried performing CPR on her daughter after a younger sibling found Natalie on her back with vomit coming out of her mouth. Nicole allegedly claimed Natalie was a troubled teenager with a mental health disorder — telling investigators that Natalie and two of her siblings would go to the bathroom on the floor in the home “out of spite and defiance.”

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Joseph allegedly told detectives he had replaced the carpet in Natalie’s room with linoleum tile because “it was so soiled by the bodily waste from the children,” according to the affidavit, the Register reports. He allegedly told police he had helped to nail shut a window in the bedroom after Natalie’s two siblings sneaked out to beg for food at a nearby convenience store.

The paper claims the three children lived with their adoptive mother full-time, and Joe allegedly told investigators he allowed them to eat and use the bathroom whenever they stayed with him.