Three Charged with Cruelty to Children

Meriwether County Sheriff Chuck Smith reported that the criminal investigation division has charged three adults with the offenses of Cruelty to Children 1st degree along with two juveniles being removed from the home. This investigation was as a result of a follow-up investigation on an unrelated matter.

“On December 1, 2017 two of our investigators were following up on an unrelated reported incident of Financial Transaction Card Fraud in the 900 block of Cleggs Ferry Road, Greenville, Ga. During this time the investigators were at a residence in which they were allowed access and were speaking with the adult complainant and other occupants about the previously reported matter. While inside the residence one of the two juvenile residents directed them to their bedroom. At this time investigators noticed a dead-bolt lock on the exterior of the bedroom door. Our lead investigator asked the siblings, a female juvenile 16 years of age and the male juvenile 15 years of age about what he observed. The information obtained by our investigators revealed allegations that the juveniles were being locked in their (one) bedroom all most every evening around 5:30 pm. It was further alleged that the juveniles were forced to use the bathroom in the corner of the bedroom in a portable toilet. It was indicated that a mattress would at times be placed over the outside of the door to drown out the sounds. Our investigators noticed that the 16 year old female’s head was shaved and upon questioning discovered that this was used as a punishment. This was corroborated through one of the child’s legal guardian’s. It was further alleged that the female juvenile was provided a wig to wear. However the wig would allegedly be taken away as an additional punishment. Our investigators noticed that there were three infer-red cameras installed in the juvenile’s bedroom and a portable toilet in the corner. The investigators observed that the room was in complete disarray with all the lightbulbs removed from the fixtures and it smelled of urine and feces. Nail marks were observed on the windows in which the investigators learned that they had been boarded up previously.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for the residence based on probable cause for the offenses of Cruelty to Children that was alleged and observed. The search warrant execution resulted in additional evidence being obtained to include video surveillance and written logs. The logs had information related to when the juveniles would cry and beg for food.

Our investigation has resulted in the arrest of three suspects in this case. Barry Lee Ellenburg, W/M, 41 years of age of Greenville, Ga., Daniel Richard Odell, W/M , 35 years of age of Greenville, Ga. and Charlenne Virginia Ellenburg, W/F 64 years of age of Greenville, Ga. have each been charged with 2 counts each of Cruelty to Children 1st Degree. All three are being held in the Meriwether County Jail without bond. The juveniles have been removed from the home and placed in the custody of the Department of Family and Children Services. Our investigators did an outstanding job of recognizing that there was evidence of a far more serious criminal act occurring in this residence than what they were following up on. Their investigative instincts led to the arrest being made and these juveniles being removed from the home for the betterment of their safety and wellbeing. This incident is under further investigation and additional charges maybe pending.” Sheriff Chuck Smith said.