The grandmother of a 6-year-old child and her boyfriend have been charged with abusing the boy, who police say weighs only 24 pounds, by starving him and frequently locking him in the basement of a West Baltimore rowhouse.
The child, Maurice Royster, who will turn 7 on Aug. 31, was taken to a fast-food restaurant by concerned police officers before being admitted to University of Maryland Medical Center. He was listed in fair condition today.
Charged with child abuse are Evonne Johnson, 47, and James Carroll, 55, who live in the 1500 block of N. Payson St.
Mr. Carroll was ordered held on $1 million bail at the Western District police lockup for a bail review hearing today.
Ms. Johnson was held in lieu of $50,000 bail at the Women's Detention Center.
Police were trying to locate the child's parents.
Police said the alleged abuse was reported by Maurice's two teen-age sisters, who went to the Western District station yesterday at 2 p.m. and told police their brother was being abused and starved inside his grandmother's house.
Police found Maurice in a first-floor room of the house. They said the child appeared to be "in a state of severe malnutrition" and had bruises on his legs and buttocks. They said he told police he was locked in the basement most of the time.
"He looks like one of the kids you see starving to death in one of the Third World countries," said Lt. James Rainey. He described the boy as polite and "fairly articulate."
The officer said the child had arms and legs the size of those of a 3-year-old. His weight is half that of the average, healthy 6 1/2 -year-old child who should weigh at least 50 pounds, said Melva Layne, a registered nurse in the pediatric unit of UM hospital.
T.C. Palomino, a neighbor on North Payson Street, said neighbors were "shocked" to learn of the abuse.
"I've seen him run between the houses," Ms. Palomino said. "I thought he was 3 years old. Naturally, I didn't think he was malnourished."
Police said the boy and his sisters live in the 1500 block of N. Appleton St.
The girls and a third sister who is 8 years old were turned over to the Department of Social Services yesterday.
Police said the sisters have a different last name from the boy. Their relationship to Ms. Johnson is not clear.
Another neighbor on N. Payson St., who didn't want to be identified for fear of retribution, said he was "a little shaken up" over the reported abuse. "I first thought, 'What's going on?" said the neighbor, who recently returned to the neighborhood from college.
"I knew Maurice. We were good friends. Where were the parents? That's the one-hundred-dollar question. No one knows."