Kansas City mom pleads not guilty in closet abuse case

Woman's boyfriend remains on the run

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The mother accused of locking her daughter in a closet and depriving her of food pleaded not guilty to all charges against her on Thursday. Her boyfriend remains on the run from local authorities.

Jacole Prince was arrested last month and charged with child abuse, endangering the welfare of a child and assault after a tip led police to her malnourished 10-year-old daughter, who was locked in a closet.

Prosecutors say Prince told them she kept her daughter hidden because she knew people would be able to tell the girl was not healthy. Neighbors say the mother and her two younger daughters lived in the apartment with her boyfriend. They did not know a third child lived in the home. 

Lovetta Parker lives in the apartment below Prince's. She considers Prince a friend, but says she and her boyfriend should be held responsible for their actions.

"They should not have done that little girl like that, they could have gotten help," Parker said.

The boyfriend, Marcus Benson, has been charged with failure to protect and failure to provide proper nourishment.  Benson originally claimed he didn't know the was in the closet, but police believe otherwise.

Police are on the lookout for Benson, who has not been taken into police custody. 

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