Missouri town holds vigil after adoptive parents charged in death of starving 10-year-old

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SALEM, Mo. – Community members in Salem, Missouri gathered outside the Dent County Courthouse on Tuesday night. They remembered the life of 10-year-old Josie Ann Abney, called for justice in the investigation into her death, and called on everyone to do more to stop child abuse.

Josie weighed less than 35 pounds after she collapsed and died, according to the Dent County Coroner’s Office. The office said the typical weight for a 10-year-old is approximately 70 to 75 pounds.

Randall Abney and Susan Abney are charged with abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death.

The probable cause statement in the case indicates one investigator described Josie as appearing like a Holocaust victim. The probable cause statement also indicates there was a child lock on the refrigerator while at the same time Randall and Susan Abney kept snacks in a chest of drawers in their room.

“It’s sick,” said vigil co-organizer Christina Pierce.

Investigators report the parents told them Josie stopped eating. Court documents indicate the couple was pressed by investigators about why no one took her to see a doctor. Susan Abney eventually responded by saying “my own stupidity” and “I was too scared of what they would think”, according to the probable cause statement.

Investigators report the parents told them they were homeschooling Josie. Her former kindergarten teacher recalls how much everyone loved Josie.

“She loved every kid and every adult that was around her fell in love with her,” said Kristi Moses. “We’ve got to do more to protect our kids.”

Vigil organizers called on everyone to be more vigilant about child abuse and insist Josie should still be alive.

“Somebody’s got to say something,” said Karen Wallis, vigil co-organizer. “If you see something, say something.”

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