MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Small decorations sit in front of a Tennessee house where police say they found an 8-year-old girl with severe burns and bruising on her face.
The affidavit states police were contacted to come to the address by the child's mother, 23-year-old Michelle Strong.
When they arrived, Strong told them she wanted her daughter out of the house because she was stealing. But the child told police she wanted to leave because her mother doesn't feed her and she hadn't eaten in four days.
"She can come anywhere around here and we would've given the kid food. We do that anyway," neighbor Lepolia Dunkin said. "It's really shocking to me."
Dunkin wishes he would've known about this. He's lived in the neighborhood for years and has two young kids of his own.
Police took the child to LeBonheur Children's Hospital where doctors found even more bruising and scars all over her body and whip marks between her legs.
The girl said she had been repeatedly beaten with a switch and a belt by her mother and two pastors.
Police also say the child was extremely dirty and even had a filthy pull-up.
The child told them she burned herself, according to WREG, but detectives said the injuries didn't look self-inflicted and believe someone had tortured her.
"A lot of parents put their kids in situations like that to do devious things. And that's really said," Dunkin said.
Police say the 8-year-old, who lost 28 pounds since November 2017, has been admitted to the hospital for further testing.
The Shelby County Sheriff's Office says the case has been handed over to the Department of Children's Services.