Mother held over teen locked in closet has conviction for child manslaughter

By Calvin Palmer

The mother in Oklahoma accused of locking up her 14-year-old son in a closet for more than four years was convicted of the manslaughter of her two-year-old child in New York City.

Oklahoma City police Sgt Gary Knight said detectives were able to confirm that LaRhonda McCall was arrested in New York in 1995 in connection with the death of her daughter. At the time she went by the name LaRhonda Pressley, he said.

Bronx district attorney’s office spokesman Steven Reed said the mother pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in 1996 and was sentenced to jail and probation. It is unclear how much jail time she served.

McCall, 37, and her friend, Steve Hamilton, 38, have been arrested on 20 complaints each of child abuse and child neglect relating to the 14-year-old. Both remain jailed in Oklahoma City on $400,000 bond.

They have yet to be formally charged because police have not completed their investigation, said First Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland, but charges are expected to be filed later this week.

The investigation began on Friday after the boy, malnourished and covered with scars and bruises, wandered up to a National Guard armory about a mile and a half from his home and told security guards there he escaped and needed police.

An affidavit released today said McCall and Hamilton admitted to repeatedly beating the boy and locking him in a closet for days. McCall told investigators she choked the teen at least once and used a belt, ruler and broom handle to beat him numerous times over the last three years, according to the affidavit.

Hamilton also told police he also beat the teen, identified as “B.M.,” multiple times with a belt and wire cable “when he got out of line,” and once struck him in the head with a tire jack, the affidavit said.

“Steve advised he saw B.M. locked in the closet on at least 27 different occasions,” the affidavit said.

Managers of the last two apartment complexes where the family most recently lived said they occasionally saw some of McCall’s seven other children but never saw the teenage boy. All seven of McCall’s minor children have been taken into custody of the Department of Human Services.

[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]

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