Parents charged after starving teenager dies


Natalie Finn (16), from Des Moines, in Iowa, America, has been described as a friendly, bubbly, beautiful person. But on 24 October the teen died of starvation and a lack of critical medical care. On 8 November two people were charged in connection with Natalie’s death: her parents, Nicole Marie Finn (42) and Joseph Michael Finn II (45). Although the couple divorced in 2011 they shared custody of their children and received a grant for it.

What has come to light since Natalie’s death sounds like what you’d find in a horror story.

Natalie’s starvation led to a heart attack for which she was admitted to hospital, where she died.

Nicole and Joseph have both been charged with three counts of abduction, three counts of exposing children to danger that led to severe injuries, and three counts of neglect of a dependant.

Natalie was tortured and regularly deprived of food, clothing and basic medical care. She wasn’t the only victim. Two of her siblings, a 14-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy, were secretly held with her for a time in a small brick house in Des Moines.

According to reports all three children had either mental health problems or physical disabilities. Natalie allegedly saw herself as the protector of the younger children.

According to Becca Gordon, whose son was friends with Natalie, she would regularly ask for food for her siblings and her. What worried Becca was the fact that Natalie allegedly wore the same clothes for days and didn’t smell very clean.

Other neighbours say they gave Natalie flip-flops, money and food. “It looks as if she approached people for help only if she thought she could trust them,” says Leah Mirels, a neighbour.

“She had the most friendly, bubbly, beautiful personality. She was just wonderful. What a waste,” Becca says.

Neighbours allegedly brought the plight of the children to the attention of the police five months before Natalie’s death, but the matter was never followed up.

Nicole and Joseph have two other children, 15 and 22 years old respectively. But they don’t appear on the list of plaintiffs.


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