Florida Woman Allegedly Kept Child with Autism in Metal and Wood Cage
Melissa Ann Doss allegedly told police she was "at the end of her rope"
Authorities in Florida have filed criminal charges against a 43-year-old woman accused of forcing her daughter with autism to stay in a homemade metal and wood cage.
PEOPLE confirms through online records that Melissa Ann Doss remains in custody on three counts of child neglect and one count of child abuse following her arrest this weekend.
Doss is being held on $20,000 bond. It was unclear if Doss had entered pleas to the charges, and information about her attorney was unavailable.
The caller said there was a child inside their screened-in patio, and when officers arrived, they determined the girl lived next door.
Police claim Doss told them she had fallen asleep and was unaware her daughter had left. She also allegedly refused to let the authorities inside her home, according to the reports.
Later in the day, officers were summoned back to the neighborhood, after Doss' daughter returned to the neighbor's porch.
As she spoke to police, Doss allegedly said she was "at the end of her rope." Again, she would not let officers inside her home.
Police eventually found their way in, using a back door. The Sentinel reports that officers immediately smelled urine and feces upon entering the home.
There was trash strewn throughout the home, as well as bugs, spiders and flies.
According to the reports, police said no part of the floor was visible and there was mold present. Portions of the walls were damaged and part of the roof collapsed.
Police also noticed there were no bathrooms, and that Doss told them they use "a bucket and throw the waste in the backyard," the Sentinel reports.
Officials said the house had no food or water and deemed it "uninhabitable."
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Child protective services was notified, and through their investigation, learned the daughter, who is non-verbal, spent nights locked in the cage. They noted the presence of a blanket and pillow in the homemade contraption.
Doss allegedly told police the child would scream in the mornings until she was let out.
Social workers removed the child and two siblings from the home. No ages were given for the children, according to the reports.