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Child Found Locked Up, Bruised; Fillmore County Couple Charged
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- An Ostrander couple is facing numerous charges after authorities say their five-year-old daughter was found injured and trapped in a room.
31-year-old Angela Stewart is charged with four felony counts including attempted second-degree manslaughter, child neglect and malicious punishment of a child.
Her husband, 36-year-old Ryan Rechtzigel is charged with eight felony counts and one gross misdemeanor. His charges include child neglect, malicious punishment of a child, false imprisonment, assault and a number of drug-related charges.
According to the criminal complaint filed in Fillmore County District Court, the couple were known drug users. The case started on November 17 when the Ostrander police chief was contacted by a Fillmore County probation officer who was looking for Rechtzigel. Court documents indicate she wanted to question him about an incident with law enforcement in Rochester and about his five-year-old daughter. She had been contacted by a concerned family friend who hadn't seen the child, according to the complaint.
On November 18, the Ostrander police chief contacted the elementary school in LeRoy and was told the child had been taken out of the school by Stewart who said the girl was going to be home-schooled. Rechtzigel was brought in for questioning.
Two Fillmore County probation officers and the Ostrander police chief took Rechtzigel to the home he was known to live in with Stewart and the three children. According to the criminal complaint, Stewart answered the door with two of the children and stated they were the only ones in the house.
Court documents say the police chief started looking through the home and at the top of some stairs found a large piece of plywood, which was secured by two hooks and blocking access to a room. Inside that room, he found the five-year-old girl sitting on the floor wearing pajamas with no socks or shoes, according to the complaint. The police chief described the room as colder than the rest of the house with no blankets, no toys, and a broken sofa with no cushions.
The child appeared to have swelling, bruising, cuts and scrapes on her face and head, according to the complaint. Her arm had a red mark appearing similar to a rope burn or being hit with a flat or round object. Court documents state her elbow looked to be broken or dislocated, although the child says it did not hurt. When asked if she was hurt, the police chief says the girl began crying, stating that Rechtzigel slapped her causing her to hit her head, and that her mother had hit her on the top of her head with an object. Authorities say the child also had a blister on her palm, marks on her back, missing hair and scabs on the top of her head.
During questioning, Stewart and Rechtzigel allegedly admitted to hurting the child. Stewart said the girl had been taken away from them when she was six months old and they didn't get her back until she was four. She allegedly said the little girl was distant, and she didn't feel a bond with her like with the other two children.
According to court documents, the couples' cell phones were taken which uncovered videos and text messages. Two pictures showed what appeared to be feces all over the five-year-old's face, according to authorities. Investigators say another video showed the child being forced to do squats while holding a plastic bin on her head that was full of items. Another video allegedly showed the child being questioned about eating food off the stove with Stewart swearing at her and telling her she's not allowed to eat.
The statement of probable cause details more than a dozen text message found on the phones. The conversations between Stewart and Rechtzigel refer to the girl in multiple derogatory terms, according to the complaint. The couple allegedly talk about locking the girl up, keeping her out of public sight, feeding her feces and thinking of "the worst way to torture" the child, according to texts outlined in the complaint.
According to court documents, meth and drug paraphernalia was also found in the home. Stewart and Rechtzigel were taken to the Fillmore County Jail. They're next court appearances are next month. The children are in the custody of social services.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the little girl and here to siblings who were all removed from the home.
If you'd like to donate click here.
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