Alabama Parents Allegedly Kept Starving Teenage Son Trapped in Their Basement

An Alabama couple remains behind bars Monday after being accused of starving their 14-year-old adopted son and keeping him trapped in their basement

Richard and Cynthia Kelly - News
Photo: Shelby County Jail

An Alabama couple remains behind bars Tuesday after being accused of starving their 14-year-old adopted son, who weighed less than 60 pounds at the time of his parents’ arrest, PEOPLE confirms.

Richard Kelly, 56, and his 47-year-old wife, Cynthia Kelly, were charged with aggravated child abuse and are being held on $1 million bond in the Shelby County Jail in Alabama. They will appear in court within 72 hours of their arrest, where they will enter a plea to their charges.

It is unclear if the Kellys have retained attorneys yet, though officials say defendants typically request counsel at the upcoming hearing.

Meanwhile, their son (and alleged victim) is “gravely ill,” Helena Police Chief Pete Folmar tells PEOPLE. Though the teen was allegedly kept in the family’s basement for two years, according to, Folmer could not confirm such accusations.

But, he says, “It is the worst case of neglect I believe out there.”

The teen allegedly weighed just 55 pounds when his parents took him to the hospital in critical condition Sunday, according to

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Hospital staff “saw what was obvious signs of neglect” and contacted the state’s Department of Human Resources, which then called police, Folmar says.

“It is our belief [the victim] was kept in forced isolation for an extended period of time,” he says.

Folmar says the teen was “severely malnourished and showed signs of that being chronic.” He also suffered from acute respiratory distress, hypothermia, hypothyroid disease, severe shock and dehydration.

The teen wasn’t enrolled in Shelby County schools and was home-schooled. He lived with the couple “for well over the majority of his life,” Folmar says.

He says the couple have another, older adopted son living at home.

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