Neighbor shocked by dozens of charges against Missouri guardians in child abuse case

ALBANY, Mo. -- A neighbor to two Northwest Missouri guardians charged with dozens of charges in a child abuse investigation is shocked by the claims. She didn't even know the 11-year-old victim lived in the home.

Punished with a stun gun and handcuffed in a cage -- that's what life was like for the young girl, according to investigators.

Jennifer Reed and Raymond Burks are being held at the Daviess/Dekalb jail and are facing more than 40 charges, including nine counts of kidnapping, 16 counts of endangering the welfare of a child, nine counts of domestic assault, six counts of armed criminal action and one count of child abuse.

“Just by her picture, I was like, 'Oh my gosh,'” neighbor Elizabeth Merritt said.

Merritt said she was scrolling through social media when she saw a news story with her neighbors' mugshots. She moved in next to Reed and Burks about four years ago.

“She came over last year to give us some cantaloupe out of her garden,” Merritt said.

She said they barely interacted other than a quick friendly chat. She had no idea an 11-year-old girl lived inside the home.

Jennifer Reed and Raymond Burks

“That's crazy. I didn't even know they had that little girl. I've never seen her outside or anything,” Merritt said.

Court documents show investigators went to the Albany, Missouri, home to look into the abuse allegations. The girl said her guardians, Reed and Burks, confined her inside the home during daylight hours, handcuffing her at the wrists and ankles to a metal cage.

“I don't know why someone would do that. It's just crazy,” Merritt said.

Court documents go on to say the 11-year-old said at one point Reed pushed her, leaving her unable to move her right arm. The girl also said she was struck on the back, face and head with an open fist, closed fist, foot and belt. Investigators noted that she had visible bruises, cuts and scrapes.

“We didn't even know that was going on,” Merritt said.

The girl said Reed used the stun gun to discipline her. Court documents say the girl told police two weeks before the investigation, Reed brought her to Kansas City to talk to a man who handles prostitutes, so she could learn what would happen to her if she tried to run away from home.

Reed's 17-year-old daughter corroborated these allegations.

According to the court documents, Reed and Burks admitted to hitting and kicking the 11-year-old, as well as handcuffing her to the cage. Reed also said she owned a stun gun and bought handcuffs to restrain the girl.

The claims of what happened next door are shocking to their neighbor.

“That's just crazy. I don't know how anyone could do that to a kid,” Merritt said. “I definitely don't think they should be allowed to parent any more kids.”

Court documents don't give any details as to how they became the alleged victim's guardians.

Reed and Burks are both in the Daviess/Dekalb jail on $250,000 bonds. Each will be arraigned on July 25. All charges against them are felonies.

Court documents also say Reed's boyfriend is an alleged accomplice. Lonnie Johnson is accused of hiding several sets of handcuffs and at least one stun in a shed behind the yard.

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