Breaking News
More () »

'He deserves what he's gonna get': Neighbors react to severe child abuse case in Kent Co.

Police said there were also two other juveniles living in the home, a 14-year-old boy and a 17-year-old boy.

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — New, graphic details have been released about a child abuse case in Kent County. Two people are facing charges and one of them is on the run from police. 

Just a day after the abuse came to light, neighbors are in shock after hearing what happened to a 13-year-old girl living on their street. 

"I thought, 'my God, on my own street?'" said Phillip Moore, who's lived along Fontana Street SE since 1996. 

"I never had any clue as to what was going on," said next-door neighbor, Russo Jones. 

Police say 50-year-old Wilma Edwards and her boyfriend, 49-year-old William Williams, severely abused Edward's 13-year-old adopted daughter in their home in the 100 block of Fontana St SE. 

Edwards, who is also the girl's biological aunt, is currently in police custody. She is charged with First Degree Child Abuse, which is a felony punishable by up to life in prison. Williams is facing the same charge, but fled the area and is on the run from police. 

On Aug. 26, Edwards was forced by Child Protective Services (CPS) to bring her daughter to the hospital, police said. 

"The child was brought to the hospital by Wilma, however once the hospital and police saw the severe malnourishment, the physical injuries, and had probable cause, she was arrested that evening," said Sgt. Eric Brunner with the Kent County Sheriff's Office. 

According to court documents, Edwards told police that she and Williams would tie the girl to her bed each night using ratchet straps, and she would frequently wet the bed.

Doctors said the girl came in with refeeding syndrome and liver and kidney damage as a result of malnourishment. She also had bruising and cuts all over her body.

"There was concern to the point where we didn't know if the child was going to make it," said Sgt. Brunner. 

Police said there were two other juveniles living in the home, a 14-year-old boy and 17-year-old boy. Sgt. Brunner said due to the nature of the charges and the investigation, the two other children are in the custody of CPS.

"I only thought it was the two boys," said next-door neighbor, Russo Jones. "I never saw the girl at all, so that was crazy to hear."

"I'm glad they found her before the worst could have happened," he added. 

Neighbors said they had no idea what was going on inside that house, but wish they would have.

"If I would've had any inkling of what was going on, I definitely would have said something," Jones said. 

"They didn't have no signs of what was going on," said a neighbor who lives across the street and asked to remain anonymous. "If they'd have come up to me and said something, I'd have done something." 

"I'd have turned those parents in," he added, "because I care about them kids."

Sgt. Brunner said it can be hard to know what's going on behind closed doors, but any information is better than none. 

"If something does seem concerning to you, feel free to reach out," he said, "because it's never a hesitation for us."

If you have information that could help to move the investigation forward or locate Williams, you're asked to call the Kent County Sheriff's Office. You can also report anonymously through Silent Observer.

"I hope they catch him," said the neighbor across the street. "He deserves what he's gonna get."


Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@13onyourside.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Before You Leave, Check This Out