Police: Couple left daughter with Down syndrome in locked bathroom for weeks at a time

CARROLLTON, Ky. -- Police arrested a Carroll County couple Wednesday after they said the two kept their daughter who suffers from Down syndrome in dungeon-like conditions for more than four years.

In the 200 block of Ninth Street in Carrollton, Ky., police say Billy Ray Mertz, 46, and Robin Mertz, 34, were keeping a secret, holding their 23-year-old daughter captive and hidden from the world.

According to investigators, Billy Ray is the victim's father and Robin is her stepmother.

Both are accused of keeping her in a bathroom for weeks at a time.

"She was basically kept in two different parts of the house bathroom upstairs in the home where she would stay for weeks if not months at a time without leaving the room," said Kentucky State Police Trooper Brad Arterburn. "She slept in there, she ate in there, did everything in there. She was not bathed while she was in there. They did not take care of her."

She was also kept in a closed-off basement bedroom using boards screwed into the wall to keep the door from opening, authorities said.

"She was getting out of that room so they started putting up boards in front of the doors and screwing them into the door frame to keep her from getting out," Arterburn said.

Officers said the victim weighed about 189 pounds when she began living with the Mertz family in April of 2009.

She weighed 86 pounds when she was removed from the home Aug. 20, police said.

Tiffany McGlennen, Billy Ray's distant cousin, lives near the Mertz's home and said she hasn't seen their daughter in years.

"I've actually lived here for two years now and we have never seen her," McGlennen said.

McGlennen said when she was younger, the victim would follow her around and they were very close.

She said she would often ask the Mertz family how she was doing.

"I would ask several times and I was told she's doing good...so it's just a complete shocker," she said. "People who have visited the home would...ask to see her (and) were told she was asleep and that they couldn't see her at that time."

After their arrest Wednesday, both suspects were arraigned Thursday and pleaded not guilty.

They are currently at the Carroll County Detention Center.

Adult Protective Services has placed the victim in foster care.

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