GREENVILLE (KDKA) — Applause broke out in court after a Mercer County mother and grandparents accused of starving and abusing a 7-year-old were ordered to stand trial.

The boy was described as looking like a human skeleton when he was found back in June.

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The boy’s mother, Mary Rader, and grandparents, Deana and Dennis Beighley, had a preliminary hearing in Greenville Thursday afternoon.

The testimony from a caseworker indicated that when school staff noticed that Rader didn’t want her son to eat meals at school, she told them he’d had a big breakfast at home and he would overeat if he ate school meals.

The judge ordered them to trial on all charges, including two new counts of conspiracy to commit homicide and attempted homicide.

“Today when they said it’s going to be murder, good. Good I’m glad,” said Cindy Shuffstall, the grandmother’s cousin. “I hope they rot in jail.”

When child welfare workers found the boy, he weighed only 25 pounds, his teeth were abscessed and his feet were irritated and infected. Expert medical reports say he could have died within a month without treatment.

Investigators say they believe when the boy was allowed outside he would catch bugs and eat them because he was so hungry.

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He was also forced to sleep on the basement floor and take ice cold showers, officials said.

Shuffstall, along with many who brought signs to the courthouse, said the testimony was hard to hear.

“It’s hard for me. I was abused from the time I was little, and the abuse is always there. It’s never going to go away, and that little boy is going to have to live with this the rest of his life,” said Shuffstall. “He thought it was okay, and he thought they loved him. He thought he was getting three meals a day.”

When bond for the three was set at $100,000 straight and they were going to jail, the crowd applauded.

KDKA’s Harold Hayes: “What was that moment like when they said, ‘You’re going to jail right now,’ and everybody clapped?

“Yes. Yes, it was wonderful,” said Patty Fowler, a neighbor. “I think not just for me, but for a lot of people.”

Police Charge Mom, Grandparents Of Starving, Beaten Child Who Ate Insects To Survive (7/19/14)
Investigation Continues After Child Found Resembling “Human Skeleton” (7/21/14)
More Mercer County News
More Reports by Harold Hayes

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