(NECN/KSHB: Amy Hawley) - Officials in Kansas City found a malnourished 10-year-old girl inside a closet in her family's apartment...Now the girl's mother faces three charges of child abuse.
Friday morning was a morning Joetta Walker won't soon forget. In fact, she can't stop crying about it.
She was having her morning coffee when officers and a family services employee walked upstairs to Jacole Prince's second-story apartment.
She told police Prince and her two children were gone.
"They were very well kept. They dressed nicely, bathed... kept up like children should be," Walker said.
She had no idea about Prince's third and oldest child - a ten-year-old.
The Jackson County prosecutor says 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 say the door was tied off with a rope.
As officers approached, the probable cause statement says they asked: "Is anyone in here?" and then they heard a small child's voice answer: "yes."
Prosecutors say her mother and two younger sisters had gone out to eat for breakfast. "I cried, I cried sweetheart," Walker said.
"That just hurt me so much to see that baby…She was so tiny…Her little legs was balled up holding onto the lady, with her little arms wrapped around the worker…All I could see was her little legs. Her legs were so small they looked like they were about like that. They were so tiny."
Detectives say the hospital weighed the 10-year-old child at just a frail 32 pounds - wearing a size two toddler t-shirt.
Walker couldn't believe her eyes.
"We couldn't believe that there would be a baby up there in the closet. And when they came down with her it was really true…I would give anything to be able to have helped that child," Walker said.
Neighbors say the younger two children recently played and ate with the neighbor kids for a father's day cookout.
They say Prince never acted like anything was wrong, but prosecutors say she must have to someone.
"The hero in this case is an unknown hero... somebody that contacted the hotline," Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker said.
"She looked like a baby that, I guess, God had set free. It was time for that baby to be found," Walker said.
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