KENTON, Ohio (WCMH) – The parents of a little girl who was kidnapped and brutalized in Kenton late last year are speaking on the public record for the first time.
Tuesday was the first day of testimony in the Hardin County trial of Charles Castle, the suspect in the November kidnapping and rape of the 7-year-old girl.
Tuesday was also that girl’s eighth birthday.
Her parents spent the day in court, telling a jury what happened to their daughter, and the aftermath of those two days last year.
“She was a fully-functioning kid, being able to do everything,” the girl’s mother testified. NBC4 is not naming either of the parents in order to protect the child’s identity.
The mother said she put her daughter to bed early on the night of Nov. 10. When the parents woke the next morning, the girl was gone.
A 911 call triggered a two-day search for the girl, a search that shook the Kenton community and ended in the cold, dark, filthy basement of an abandoned farmhouse.
The next time the girl’s parents saw her was when she was admitted to the hospital.
During the trial Tuesday, jurors were shown photos of the child in the hospital, red marks around her neck. Harding County prosecutor Brad Bailey said those marks were from an electrical cord wrapped so tight that the girl passed out.
The parents testified that their daughter may never fully recover from the ordeal.
“She’s not allowed to play,” the girl’s mother testified. “She’s limited physically at what she can do. She acts like her right arm doesn’t even exist. She doesn’t use both of her hands. The poor girl gets frustrated so much, she ends up breaking down and crying.”
“She wobbles around, kind of like a zombie now,” the girl’s father testified.
Bailey argued Castle, then a friend of the little girl’s father, took her from her home in the middle of the night, raped her, then tried to hide her when her parents came looking for her.
“His purpose wasn’t to reunite her with her family, which he’s known for years,” Bailey said. “His purpose was to make sure she didn’t remain alive.”
Castle and his defense attorney, Elizabeth Smith, said police arrested the wrong man.
“Within hours of (the girl) going missing, they were given an easy target, an easy suspect in Charles Castle,” Smith said.
During cross-examination, Smith tried to find inconsistencies between both parents’ testimony. She questioned them about their marijuana use and about leaving their children alone at home with Castle, during his frequent visits to their house.
Castle was indicted on 17 charges in the case:
- Seven counts of kidnapping
- One count of rape
- One count of attempted aggravated murder
- One count of assault
- One count of endangering children
- One count of burglary
- Three counts of tampering with evidence
- One count of breaking and entering
- One count of possessing criminal tools