A Pennsylvania prosecutor vowed justice Monday for a 12-year-old victim of horrific child abuse who she said “remained starved, locked away and isolated until his killing.”
Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf said Max Schollenberger spent his short life imprisoned in an unlit, locked bedroom where he was tortured, neglected and denied food by his father and his “acting mother.”
“Today marks the first step in the long path of justice for this little boy,” Graf said in announcing murder and child endangerment charges against Scott Schollenberger Jr., 42, and his fiance, Kimberly Mauer, 35.
“Max Schollenberger existed – I will not call this living – in a state of perpetual suffering; he existed in the most egregious and foul of conditions,” she said. “He remained starved, locked away and isolated until his killing. This child never looked forward to his first day of school, blew out candles on a birthday cake, or experienced the unconditional love of family.”
Police were called to Schollenberger’s home in Annville, near Harrisburg, on May 26 and found Max’s malnourished naked body sprawled across a feces-covered bed. The room had no lights or electricity, police said, adding that the windows had been screwed shut and the windows shades duct-taped to the window frames.
The coroner said that at the time of his death Max was 4-foot-2 and weighed 47 pounds – nowhere near the height, weight and stature of a normal 12-year-old boy. He ruled the cause of death blunt force trauma to the head and starvation.
Graf told a news conference three other children lived in the house – the offspring of Schollenberger and Mauer – and they “were told to ignore Max and not talk to him,” the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported.
They were healthy, well-adjusted and cared for, she said.
Graf said those children described to detectives the stench that emanated from Max’s room and how Schollenberger and Mauer refused to let the boy out of his room. One child remembered hearing Max scream and cry after Schollenberger and Mauer would enter Max’s room.
State child welfare workers took custody of the children.
Graf said authorities never suspected anything was wrong in the house or that anyone was being abused, the Patriot-News reported.
No one could see into Max’s bedroom from the outside.
“There would have been nothing to trigger a Children and Youth (Services) investigation,” she said, according to the paper.