A 41-year-old Pennsylvania mother, Elisabet Estrada, is facing felony charges of aggravated assault and child endangerment, after police discovered an “extremely malnourished” 16-year-old boy in her care. According to court documents just released by municipal court, Franklin County Children and Youth Services reported the case to police back in October. The child was taken to Hershey Medical Center, where it was found out that he weighed only 26 pounds. He appeared, “very frail, gaunt, ribs extremely evident and ravenously hungry.” Police noted that he “laid in bed in the fetal position in a way that appeared as though he didn’t have the ability to stretch out in his bed.” They also noted that he was developmentally delayed and nonverbal.
After Children and Youth responded to check the welfare of his siblings at the address and set up a “safety plan” if necessary, they reported that the other children “appeared to be in good general health.” The victim remained in hospital for nearly six weeks, where he was reported to have “ruminated his food” as though he did not receive any food at home. He is also said to have regurgitated and re-eaten any food he received.
Estrada told the genetics testing personnel at Hershey Medical Center that her son “has no medical issues that require hospitalization.” She maintained that she had done “everything” for her son and had received medical services for him throughout his life. She expressed confusion as to why she wasn’t permitted to treat him herself or have any say in her son’s course of treatment, “voic[ing] anger” at the genetics specialist that was treating her son. She reported that she did not have a primary care provider for her son, and that the children were home-schooled. According to police, it appeared as though her son “had limited interaction outside of the mother and three other children.”
Throughout the course of this investigation, a doctor with Penn State Hershey Medical Center gave her medical opinion to police that the teen’s condition was due to malnutrition and medical neglect. She said this was due to his mother’s failure “to seek appropriate medical care from an early age until he was 16 years of age and failed to appropriately feed him.” The child remained in hospital from October 23rd to December 2nd. He gained 2.2 pounds during his first two days and weighed 45 pounds at the time of his discharge, “simply because he was receiving appropriate nutrition.” Estrada was booked into Franklin County Jail on January 17th on $25,000 bail, and will appear before Magisterial District Judge Glenn Manns for a preliminary hearing January 28th.