First court appearance for mom charged with starving, locking girl in closet

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Kansas City mother charged with three counts of abuse after her daughter was found severely malnourished inside a closet made her first court appearance Monday morning.

When police discovered the 10-year-old girl in the closet of an apartment on the 1300 block of Highland on Friday, she weighed 32 pounds.

She was so small she was wearing a size 2 toddler T-shirt.

Police said they received an anonymous call that saved the little girl's life.

Prosecutors charged the girl's mother, 29-year-old Jacole Prince, with three counts of abuse.

READ: Prince's probable cause statement

Detectives followed a strong odor of urine to a small utility closet that was barely big enough for the hot water heaters, according to court documents.

Prosecutors said the door was tied off with a rope.

As officers approached, they asked, "Is anyone in here?"

They then heard a small child's voice answer, "Yes."

Prosecutors said they're not sure how long the girl was in the closet, but they believe she endured torture for a very long time.

The girl is recovering at Children's Mercy Hospital. She is getting ready to celebrate her 11th birthday.

Two other children lived in the home. They are currently in protective custody.

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