DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado woman appeared in court on Monday for the first time after being charged with abusing her 7-year-old daughter who suffered from seizures and was unable to walk or speak when found living amid squalor, prosecutors said.
Leah Dyer, 47, of Fort Collins is charged with one count of felony child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, said Linda Jensen, spokeswoman for the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office.
Her husband, Douglas Dyer, 44, faces the same charge. Both are free on $10,000 bonds.
Child protection services and police removed the girl from the home last October, according to an arrest warrant affidavit posted on the Fort Collins Coloradoan newspaper’s website.
An informant told police that the girl was treated for seizures in 2009, but had not seen a physician since then nor received any medication, the affidavit said.
Authorities found the girl lying on the floor of the cat feces-littered home wearing a diaper, and unable to speak, stand or hold her head up, the document said.
While investigators were inside the home, the girl suffered a seizure and was rushed to a hospital, the affidavit said.
Douglas Dyer told police he did not believe the girl was undergoing seizures, and instead called them “spells.”
“He (Dyer) said they looked into the spiritual realm but they ran into roadblocks in trying to have their home blessed to get rid of the spirits,” the affidavit said.
The couple told investigators they did not take the girl for follow-up medical appointments after the 2009 diagnosis because their vehicle was broken, and “they didn’t want to bother their friends,” the affidavit said.
The girl weighed just 37 pounds when she was taken from the home, authorities said. Now aged 8, she has gained more than 20 pounds and has grown six inches since she was removed from the Dyer home 10 months ago, authorities said.
“Now after having her nutritional and medical needs met; and receiving speech, occupational and physical therapy (the girl) has made tremendous gains to the point she is now standing with help, communicating with sounds and signs,” police said.
Douglas Dyer is due in court next month for a preliminary hearing, according to court records.
Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Diane Craft