(UPDATE 5:30 P.M.) – CBS 42 caught up with 18 year-old Eddie Carter over Skype from his home in Tucson, Arizona. He recently returned from a rushed trip to Alabama, where he had hoped to see his younger brother who he hadn’t spoken to in well over a year.
“I have to be there for him, cause I can only imagine what he’s going through now, like–it’s going to take time. When I came down, he didn’t want to see anybody, including me,” Carter remembered. “I was that way, you know, when I left their home, too. Like I was just very quiet. I stayed to myself. I didn’t really trust people.”
Carter and his younger brother were adopted by Richard and Cynthia Kelly several years ago. Carter was sent away from the home after about a year and half, but his younger brother stayed with the family. In November of this year, the Kelly’s were charged with aggravated child abuse.
Carter’s brother was rescued from the home, weighing only 55lbs at 14 years-old. At a press conference, Helena police described the child as being severely and chronically malnourished and dehydrated, suffering from acute respiratory distress, shock, hypothermia, hypothyroid disorder, and close to death.
Carter said finding out about his brother was like a slap in the face. “I mean, I’m trying to think that he’s in a better place and he’s doing good, and then that happens. Its just shocking. It’s like everything was going good and then you get in that car wreck. You’ve done everything you can to prevent it.”
Carter said during the time that he and his brother lived with the Kelly’s, they were still separated. That’s because Carter said, he was being kept down in the basement for weeks at a time as a punishment. He never thought it would happen to his brother.
“You don’t really question it too much,” he remembered. “I was young at the time. I didn’t know. I was just like, alright. They [the Kelly’s] know what they’re doing. Afterwards, I knew it was wrong. It messed me up for years.”
Carter said he assumed that he deserved the punishments at the time. “There’s nothing down there,” he said. “The only thing that was there was a motion sensor. I couldn’t get out.”
Carter said he didn’t have interactions with other people–like classmates who might wonder about where he had gone. “I was home schooled,” he said. “Which made it worse. Cause there’s no contact with the outside world. I think we went to church awhile back, but since it started [the punishments], it was like–there was nothing. No one knew I was down there but the people in the house.”
Carter said he would hear the family above him, making plans to go to dinner while he was fed bread and water–or vegetables. He still can’t eat peas and carrots. “When you’re down there, you kind of disassociate,” he explained. “You channel your feelings and your thoughts and you don’t attach yourself to anything. Like you just think–I guess this is what it’s going to be forever.”
Carter’s younger brother still lived upstairs, so he didn’t know how his sibling felt when he was ultimately sent away. He only saw him once when Carter and his father made a road trip to see his biological family, but it was through the window. “My brother did look skinny,” he said, “but I didn’t think anything of it at the time.” He said that his father spoke to Richard Kelly, but he never got out of the car. He isn’t sure what they talked about.
It was also Carter’s father that showed him the newspaper article about the Kelly’s arrest, and his brother’s condition. “Nothing could ever be justified,” Carter said. “You know–to lock a child in the basement and deprive them of food or anything like that.”
Since leaving the Kelly’s, Carter has made a lot of progress. “I had to do years of counseling,” he said. “There’s still stones that are un-turned, but I’ve just learned how to live with it–and forgive and try to forget, but it’s still always going to be there.
Now, Carter finds a lot of comfort in writing music. He said it’s his way of venting, because he doesn’t often like to talk about his past. “You know, a voice for the voiceless is essentially what it’s about.”
He believes Arizona is a better fit for him. He lives in a creative community, and he’s working hard to finish school. “If I just find what makes me happy after all I’ve been through, and actually be genuinely be happy for once…I’d be settled with that.”
During his time away from the Kelly home, Carter said he’s also learned a lot about patience. That’s part of the reason he isn’t pushing his brother to reunite before he’s ready. “We had the relationship that we had, and when we went there, it all just deteriorated,” Carter said. “I just want to rebuild that, cause I miss him. There’s not a time that I don’t think about him.”
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ORIGINAL STORY: TUCSON, AZ. (WIAT) — Last month, Helena couple Cynthia and Richard Kelly made headlines for charges of aggravated child abuse after their 14 year-old adopted son weighing only 55 pounds was admitted to Children’s Hospital in a condition described as near death.
Helena police were notified by DHR about the child’s condition, and opened and interview into the boy’s adoptive parents. They discovered the 14-year-old had been kept in a basement and was severely malnourished and deprived of medical care.
Now, the boy’s 18 year-old brother, who says he also spent a year and a half with the Kelly’s, is speaking out about his experiences and his attempts to reconnect with his brother.
Watch part of his Skype interview in the video below.