Florida Woman Kept Autistic Child Locked Inside Cage: Police

A Florida woman is facing several charges after being accused of abusing children in her care, including keeping a severely autistic child locked inside a wood and metal cage.

Melissa Doss, 43, was taken into custody by the Brevard County Sheriff's Office earlier this week and is facing three charges of child neglect and one charge of aggravated child abuse, according to police records obtained by NBC affiliate WFLA.

The records showed that local police in Palm Bay, Florida, visited Doss' home in the area of Fillmore Avenue Northeast several times over the weekend and eventually entered the residence after she initially refused to open her front door.

The police were first called to Doss' home by a neighbor who reported seeing a child inside of their screened-in patio. Officers discovered that the girl, who is autistic, lived next door in the 43-year-old's property.

Doss told the authorities that she had been sleeping and wasn't aware that the child had left her house and entered the residence of her neighbors. At that time, she refused to let the authorities enter her house to check for any potential hazards.

After the child was again reported by the neighbors at their home, the police responded to Doss' residence where she told them she was "at the end of her rope," but refused to let officers in, according to WFLA.

A child protective investigator then visited Doss' home on Sunday, with them noting in the report that after entering her property through the back door "the immediate smell of feces and urine was strongly present."

The officers claimed that trash bags and bugs were scattered throughout Doss' property, no part of the home's floor was visible and large chunks of the roof was collapsing.

Mold was visible throughout the home and the property didn't appear to have any food, running water or working bathrooms, as officers claimed that "they use the restroom in a bucket and throw the waste in the backyard" and described the house as "uninhabitable" in the report.

The investigator discovered that Doss shared a bed with another child at the property and found a homemade cage situated next to it that was created using wood and metal. Inside of the cage was a pillow and a blanket, where the autistic child was kept at night.

The authorities claimed that Doss locked the child inside of the cage at night and that she screamed until she was let out of it in the morning. The child, who suffers with severe autism, is now in the custody of the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Newsweek has contacted the Brevard County Sheriff's Office for comment.

Woman kept autistic child in cage
File photo of a red light flashing atop a police car. A Florida woman is facing several charges after being accused of abusing children in her care including keeping a severely autistsic child locked inside of a wood and metal cage. artolympic/iStock / Getty Images Plus