Grand jury awaits Middletown couple for allegedly keeping daughter in basement

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio - A Butler County grand jury will hear the case of a Middletown couple who allegedly kept their 12-year-old daughter in the basement and withheld food from her.

Shawn Blackston, 40, the girl's father and Joanna Blackston, 36, the girl's stepmother, pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, child endangering and unlawful restraint.

Butler County Children's Services received a call that the girl was kept captive and fed irregularly.  A subsequent investigation led to their arrest on July 6 and the removal of the girl and five other children from the home.

"She weighed a little over 70 pounds when we took her out of there," said Detective Fred Schumake of the Middletown Police Department.

"She was locked away from the rest of the living area and didn't have a way to exit the building," continued Schumake.

Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser told 9 News that the grand jury will likely hear the case in the next two weeks. Gmoser didn't comment about the case except to say that he was aware of the details.

Shawn and Joanna Blackston were assigned a $25,000 bond.

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