FORT COLLINS, Colo. - A Fort Collins couple has been arrested, accused of neglecting their 8-year-old daughter until she could not walk or talk and forcing her to live amid feces and cat litter.
The parents, Douglas and Leah Dyer, were arrested on Monday after a 10-month police investigation. They've both charged with charged with felony child abuse causing serious bodily injury. Court records alleged the abuse began in September 2009.
According to the Coloradoan newspaper, court records state the investigation began in October 2013 when an informant told police the girl had been diagnosed with chronic seizures in 2009, but her parents hadn't taken her to a doctor since then.
When police and Department of Human Services staff entered the Dyers' home last October, they found the then-7-year-old girl weighed just 37 pounds, the Coloradoan reported, citing an arrest affidavit. She was on the floor, unable to walk, talk or hold her head up.
Within minutes, she had a seizure and was treated and transported to a hospital for evaluation, the newspaper reported. Six months after being released into foster care she weighed nearly 60 pounds, had grown nearly 6 inches and was progressing through physical occupational and speech therapy. She continues to make marked improvements out of the Dyers' custody, police noted in the affidavit cited by the Coloradoan.
When police asked the parents why four years had passed since the girl had seen a doctor, the couple said their car was broken and they didn't want to ask anyone for help, especially during a harsh winter, the newspaper reported.
In an odd twist, 7NEWS photojournalist Major King encountered 47-year-old Leah Dyer outside the Larimer County Courthouse Thursday afternoon as he covered animal control officers rescuing two Chihuahuas that had been left locked in a hot car for 45 minutes.
The mother, who had just left a hearing in her child abuse case, expressed concern about an animal control officer using a net to retrieve the tiny dogs from the hot car.
"I would love to just pick them up," she said on-camera. "They sense fear dude…like, you're fearing them."
The parents face mandatory protection orders barring them from having contact with their daughter. They've been released from jail after each posted a $10,000 bond.
7NEWS checked court records and found Douglas Dyer, 44, had three prior convictions for domestic violence from 2004 through 2006.
Douglas Dyer faces a preliminary hearing in the child abuse case on Sept. 4. Leah Dyer has another court appearance on Monday.