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Second suspect hospitalized after arrest in child abuse case

Records shed light on how suspects got custody of girl, 11
Posted at 3:08 PM, Nov 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-15 18:49:02-05

CINCINNATI — The second suspect arrested in a harrowing Brown County child abuse case is in a hospital — not in jail — after Cincinnati police caught up to him, according to officials.

Meanwhile, court records are shedding light on how the 11-year-old girl wound up in the custody of 61-year-old Charles Breeze and his wife, 47-year-old Margaret Breeze of Georgetown.

A sheriff's spokesman didn't say why Charles Breeze was transported to UC Medical Center, or why he was not "fully booked" at the Justice Center, only that Breeze would be returned there when he is "medically cleared by hospital staff."

Breeze was arrested at the hospital about 4 p.m. Thursday, according to a police report. Margaret Breeze was arrested in Georgetown on Nov. 1.

The Breezes are accused of starving and abusing the girl so severely her life was in danger by the time authorities intervened.

Since the story broke, WCPO has been asking how the Breezes got custody of the girl in the first place, and why no one had uncovered her alleged abuse.

WCPO went to Bracken County Friday and obtained records that show that Margaret Breeze applied for legal guardianship there six years ago. Breeze claimed in a petition that she was a foster parent certified in Ohio and the girl's third cousin. Breeze also claimed that a pediatrician had recommended she have guardianship because the girl had "severe behavioral problems." The girl had been living with her mother in Augusta, Kentucky.

But Mitch Sharp, director of Brown County Job and Family Services, told WCPO he could find no record that Breeze had been a licensed foster care provider in Brown County, or even in Ohio.

Furthermore, Sharp said, Brown County JFS should have been notified when the Breezes moved to Georgetown so the agency could make sure the girl got proper care. But Sharp said his agency was never informed of the girl's status or her location.

When police arrested Margaret Breeze, there were two other children, ages 2 and 8, living in the Breezes' house. Sharp said the two showed no signs of abuse or neglect. Both were private placement cases and are now living with other relatives.

The Breezes kept the 11-year-old girl locked in her bedroom in a trailer and fed her rice once a day, according to court documents. She weighed 47 pounds, was experiencing liver failure and could have died if she had not been discovered by a Child Protective Services worker.

A video found in the Breezes' home shows Margaret Breeze telling the 11-year-old she would like to “break her jaw so she didn't have to listen to her,” court documents say. Another video shows the girl being beaten and threatened.

The Breezes monitored the girl through a surveillance camera and made her wear diapers because the trailer did not have bathrooms, according to county prosecutor Zachary Corbin.

A teacher's tip led authorities to the girl, Corbin said. The girl was home schooled and was taking a test online when she complained to the teacher that she was hungry.

The teacher "was observant enough to pick up on little things that this little girl was saying, talking about the stomach ache, being hungry,” Corbin said. “She made the report and probably saved a life.”

On Sept. 13, a Child Protective Services worker responded to the Breezes' property on White Oak Valley Road and found it in disarray, according to court documents. The worker found the girl to be in desperate need of medical treatment, and authorities removed her a few days later.

The child was admitted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and diagnosed with Kwashiorkor, a severe protein deficiency normally seen in sub-Saharan Africa.

Corbin said the girl looked much younger than 11 years old. She came in below .01 percentile for both height and weight for her age group.

The Breezes pulled her from school about three years ago, Corbin said. The family also stopped taking her to the doctor at about that time.

Since the girl was rescued, authorities have placed her in a loving home, where she has gained about 15 pounds, Corbin said.

“The little girl will be scarred from this, but hopefully there’s a happy ending where she can put this nightmare behind her and move forward in a positive way like a normal 11-year-old child would,” Corbin said.

The Breezes have been charged with endangering children, felonious assault and kidnapping.

Margaret Breeze is being held in the Brown County Jail on a $250,000 bond.