Family members accused of starving boy due in court today

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Three people charged with the abuse of an 8-year-old Mercer County boy, so malnourished police said he looked like a “Holocaust victim,” are to appear in court today.

Mary Rader, 28, the boy’s mother, Deana Beighley, 47, his grandmother, and Mrs. Beighley’s husband, Dennis Beighley, 58, are scheduled for a preliminary hearing on charges of aggravated assault, aggravated assault of a child under 13, false imprisonment, unlawful restraint of a child, endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy.

Police have said Antonio Rader weighed only 24 pounds — half of the average weight for children his age — when county Children and Youth Services workers came to his Greenville home June 6.

He had been forced to sleep on the floor because he wet the bed, had a urine infection on his feet and was beaten with belts as punishment, among other things, police said.

He was 7 years old and took classes online through a cyber charter school when the alleged abuse occurred.

All three defendants are free on bond but could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Their lawyers either declined to discuss the case or could not be reached. The hearing was originally set for July 30 but was postponed until today.

Antonio was discovered when he ran into the street June 6 to pet a woman’s dog. That woman said she was shocked at how thin the boy was and called the police, describing Antonio as a “skeleton.”

He was taken from his mother and checked into UPMC Greenville, then transferred to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Since being taken from his family, Antonio has gained 20 pounds.

There were three other children living in the Mercer County house when Antonio was discovered by authorities — his brother and two sisters — but police said only Antonio was being abused, a situation experts call “scapegoating” or a “Cinderella phenomenon.”

But Detective John J. Piatek, 59, who investigates child abuse for the Mercer County district attorney’s office, said he had never seen such a case.

“I’ve handled everything from bad checks to homicide,” he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last month. “And this is about the worst.”


Max Radwin: mradwin@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1280. Molly Born contributed.


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