5 Malnourished Kids Rescued In US, Mom Held For Criminal Neglect

Dashja Turner of Racine, Wisconsin, faces neglect charges after her five malnourished children were found in dire conditions. Officials discovered the children, aged 14 months to 14 years, frail and underfed in a basement.

Harnur Watta
New Update
Image credits: Erie News Now

Image credits: Erie News Now

A heart-wrenching case of alleged criminal neglect has shocked the community, as Dashja Turner, a resident of Racine, faces serious charges following the discovery of her five malnourished children in distressing conditions. Turner's arrest and subsequent charges of neglect have left the community reeling, raising concerns about the welfare of vulnerable children.

Racine Police and the Human Services Department sprung into action on July 31, responding to a welfare check at Turner's residence around 3:30 pm. 

The scene that unfolded was one of unimaginable distress as the officials found Turner's five children, ranging in age from 14 months to 14 years, confined in the basement, frail and undernourished, according to reports from People magazine.

An Unkempt Basement

Startling revelations emerged from documents obtained by CBS 58, revealing that all of Turner's children weighed under a shocking 55 lbs (24 kg), with the youngest, a 14-month-old, weighing a mere 10 lbs (4.5 kg) - far below the healthy weight for a child of that age. 

The children's appearance was also deeply concerning, with signs that they hadn't bathed for days and were clad in nothing more than socks. The basement, where the children were discovered, was a grim setting that no child should endure. 

There was a glaring absence of essentials: no food, no bathroom facilities, and inadequate lighting - a solitary light with a pull cord barely illuminated the dismal surroundings. Further adding to the chilling scene, one window was found covered in purple paint, creating a disconcerting atmosphere.


Fox News reports paint an even more distressing picture, describing how four of the children were found huddled on a twin-size mattress, while Turner and the fifth child occupied an adjacent room. 

The children's condition was described as "frail, lethargic, and unkempt" in the official complaint, underscoring the gravity of the situation. In a turn of events that has ignited outrage, social workers were forced to take custody of the children, who were subsequently transferred to Children's Wisconsin for immediate medical attention. 

Prosecutors examining the case have asserted that the children's condition is indicative of severe malnourishment,  with one child exhibiting signs of physical abuse.

Brooke Erickson, an Assistant District Attorney in Racine County, minced no words when discussing the harrowing case. "There's complete neglect and abuse; no food, completely malnourished children washing away and in the 0.01 percentile in the weight that they should be," Erickson stated, emphasising the urgency and gravity of the situation.

Turner's Defensive Statement 

Shocking details emerged when Turner's account was juxtaposed against the evidence gathered. In the face of overwhelming evidence, Turner denied any wrongdoing and offered explanations that sharply contrasted with the dire situation. 


She claimed the children used an upstairs bathroom and were bathed using soapy water from a bucket. Turner also stated that she provided her children with basic sustenance. However, these claims were cast into doubt when law enforcement found no traces of such provisions in the household.

Furthermore, Turner's assertion that the children's medical conditions were "genetic" raised eyebrows, with medical experts cautioning against such a diagnosis given the extreme nature of the children's malnourishment

Additionally, Turner denied any involvement in physical abuse, attributing the injuries to sibling conflicts. She also indicated that she was homeschooling the children, adding another layer of complexity to the case.

As the case continues to surface details, Dashja Turner made her appearance in court on August 10. During the court proceedings, Racine County Assistant District Attorney Brooke Erickson appealed to the judge, requesting an increase in Turner's bail to a staggering $1 million. 

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Malnourished Wisconsin Basement Criminal Neglect