PICKENS COUNTY, Ga. - Two parents have been booked in the Pickens County Adult Detention Center after deputies said they disciplined their daughter by locking her in her bedroom for months at a time. Investigators called it a horrendous case of abuse.
The investigation started over the weekend when 18-year-old Olivia Nicole Ferrel was reported by her parents as missing from their home near Buckeye Trail around Saturday afternoon. Police said Neil and Janet Ferrell told deputies that their daughter "had a variety of behavioral issues that placed her in jeopardy."
"We had an aerial search from Georgia State Patrol, we knew dark was coming we were trying to get as many people on the ground as possible," said Pickens County Sheriff's Capt. Kris Stancil.
While searching, the Pickens County Sheriff said that detectives discovered that Olivia's room had video recording equipment inside, a lock on the door that would prevent someone inside from leaving, and no personal items.
Olivia was found nearly 20 hours later 15 miles away in the City of Nelson. Deputies said she was walking through the night.
When Olivia went to the Pickens County Sheriff's Office, officials said they learned that she was disciplined by being locked in her room for days to months on end, with the Farrells using video and audio equipment to monitor her.
"They would actually take all furniture out of the room, all personal effects, and her bed, as a form of punishment to lock her in that room," said Capt. Stancil.
If she needed to use the restroom outside of limited opportunities, the sheriff said that she had to use a bucket.
"She would sometimes have to stay for days, weeks, months, and they would only allow her food and restroom breaks," said Capt. Stancil.
In addition to this, police said she was punished in other ways, including beating the soles of her feet so there were no bruises.
Neal and Janet Farrell have been charged with exploitation and intimidation of disabled adults, false imprisonment, and two counts of first-degree cruelty to children. More charges may be coming
Officials said that the court system and adult protective services are working to place Olivia in a safe environment so that she can receive assistance.
Deputies believe this had gone on for several years. Neighbors are stunned.
"We were all shocked, just couldn't believe that was happening," said neighbor Shawn Roberts.
Kylie Smith said she saw the teen and one of her sisters at the stables in the community when the father would bring them down to look at the horses.
"They would never speak. They would just stand there with their arms down and he would be like 'You can speak now' and they would only say like two or three words, then they'd stop," said Smith.