Couple pleads not guilty after girl found starved, locked in bedroom

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Kansas City couple accused of starving and locking an 8-year-old girl in her bedroom pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault and first-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

A judge entered the pleas on behalf of Jeffery Kraft, 34, and Michele Buckner-Kraft, 28, on Monday.

According to the probable cause statement, the husband and wife were the caretakers and legal guardians of the girl, identified only as G.W., and her 5-year-old sister, K.N.

They also have a 5-month-old daughter together, E.K.

Police and a Children's Division investigator were called to the Kraft residence on July 5, after receiving a tip that a child was being abused.

They found G.W. scrubbing the floor of her bedroom, which smelled strongly of urine and trash. She was locked in from the outside.

She weighed only 42 pounds - 6.2 pounds less than she did when she entered kindergarten at age 5. That was her last year in school.

Her sister, K.N., did not appear to be abused. She told police that she wasn't allowed to talk to G.W., and that her sister was locked in her room most of the time.

Jeffrey Kraft told investigators that G.W. has "serious problems" and "chooses to stay in her room."

In a similar case, a 10-year-old girl was found severely malnourished and locked in a closet in a Kansas City apartment in June.

Both Kraft and Michele Buckner-Kraft have a preliminary hearing scheduled for August 9.

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