Witness didn't know she was neighbors with girl in a closet

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - No one knows who made the phone call but on Saturday the Jackson County Prosecutor said that anonymous caller saved a little girl's life.

That tip led authorities to a severely malnourished girl, locked in a closet Friday.

It also led Jackson County's prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker to charge the child's own mother with the crime.

Joetta Walker witnessed the rescue on Friday morning.

Walker said she will not forget what she saw and cannot stop crying about it.

She explained she was having her morning coffee when Kansas City Missouri police officers and a family services employee walked upstairs to Jacole N. Prince's second story apartment.
 
She told police Prince and her two children were gone.

Walker saw the two younger children often outside, "very well kept, bathed, kept like children should be."

She said she had no idea about Prince's third and oldest child. A ten year old girl.

The Jackson County Prosecutor said once detectives forced entry, they followed a strong odor of urine to a small utility closet, barely big enough for the hot water heater.

Prosecutors said the door was tied off with rope.

As officers approached, the probable cause statement detailed what happened next: "They asked 'Is anyone in here?' They then heard a small child's voice answer 'yes'."
     
Walker said her mother and two younger sisters had gone out to eat breakfast.
       
Walker described the moment she saw the malnourished child for the first time, "I cried, I cried sweetheart. It hurt me so much to see that baby. She was so tiny. Her little legs were up and holding onto the lady and wrapped around the worker.
All I could see were her legs, so small ... so tiny."

Detectives said the hospital weighed the 10 year old child at just a frail 32 pounds. She was wearing a size two toddler t-shirt.

Joetta said she could not believe her eyes.

Walker said, "I couldn't believe there was a baby in the closet. When they came down it was really true.
I would give anything to have helped that child."
   
Neighbors said the younger two children recently played and ate with the neighbor kids for a Father's day cookout.  
They said Prince never acted like anything was wrong but the Jackson County prosecutor said she must have to someone.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker explained, "The real hero in this case is an unknown hero who contacted the hotline."          

Walker agreed, "She looked like a baby that God had set free. It was time for that baby to be found."

Detectives said the hospital confirmed the child had only gained three pounds since her last doctor's appointment in 2006.
      
The prosecutor is not sure know how long but believe the child had endured a tortured life for a very long time.
        
Her mother is in jail on assault and child abuse.

Her younger sisters are in protective custody.

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