Two parents accused of child cruelty and false imprisonment appeared before a Pickens County Superior Court judge on Thursday. Neil and Janet Farrell are currently being held without bond, after their lawyers asked Judge Mary Beth Priest for a continuance on the couple’s bond hearing.
Pickens County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested Neil and Janet Farrell on Sunday after authorities completed a nearly 20-hour search for their adopted 18-year old daughter, Olivia. The Farrell’s reported Olivia missing at approximately 7PM on Saturday after she walked into a wooded area behind their Bent Tree community home. Paulding County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Kris Stancil told WSB that officers noticed warning signs in the Farrell’s home that gave suspicion to the alleged abuse and mistreatment.
“Detectives started to notice red flags throughout the home including the reverse door lock on the bedroom and cameras within the bedroom, and several, several red flags popped up,” Stancil said.
Stancil said Olivia was located walking in the backyard of a Nelson, GA residence, approximately 15 miles away from the Farrell’s home. Stancil says at this point in the investigation, deputies had sufficient evidence to not return Olivia to her parents and brought in all parties for questioning.
“During those interviews [we] learned of some pretty extensive abuse and punishment in the home, as far as the way she was treated in similar fashion to a prisoner,” said Stancil
Stancil said that the Farrell’s would punish Olivia for non-aggressive behavior by locking her in her bedroom for weeks, or even months at a time. Olivia would allegedly be given very limited time to eat or use the bathroom. Stancil confirmed in one instance Olivia was given a bucket for bodily wastes, however, there were many cases when Olivia was forced to go on the floor. All furniture in the room would be moved out, according to Stancil, and the Farrell’s would also monitor Olivia’s activity with video and audio recorders.
“It was just an inhumane treatment for common teenager behavior,” Stancil said.
In addition to confining Olivia to her room, Stancil says that the Farrell’s would use a method of beating Olivia’s feet as additional punishment without showing visible bruising. Early medical reports indicate that Olivia will not sustain any permanent physical injuries from the Farrell’s treatment, however, Stancil says the psychological toll will be significant.
Neil and Janet Farrell have been Olivia’s legal guardians since she was 5 months old. Olivia was homeschooled by Janet Farrell who was previously a certified teacher. The Farrell’s provided evidence to Pickens County Authorities when she was first reported missing indicating some type of mental disability that permitted active adult guardianship over Olivia. Olivia has three older adopted siblings, however, Pickens County authorities say there is no evidence indicating they received the same treatment. Neil and Janet Farrell are charged with Exploitation and Intimidation of Disabled Adults, False Imprisonment, and 2 counts of Cruelty to Children in the 1st degree. This case is still under investigation.