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Daughter malnourished, having seizures and living in squalor: Parents charged

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A couple charged with felony child abuse appeared in a Fort Collins, Colorado, courtroom on Aug. 18 after investigators found their seven-year-old daughter malnourished, living in squalor and wearing a diaper because she was never trained to use the toilet. An informant called authorities on the couple to say that the daughter was also suffering from seizures and was not being medically treated.

When Fort Collins Police and officials with the Department of Human Services arrived at the couple’s residence last October, they found the child “lying on the floor of the cat feces-littered home,” unable to walk or talk or even hold her head up. The little girl had a seizure when investigators were on the premises, according to an Aug. 20 report from CBS News.

The parents, Leah Dyer, 47, and Douglas Dyer, 44, were both arrested last week and both charged with one count of felony child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. The mother, accompanied by her husband, made her first court appearance on Monday and is scheduled to be back in court on Thursday. The husband’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 4. Both Dyers are currently free on $10,000 bonds.

Court papers state that the couple told investigators that they stopped taking their daughter to see doctors after she turned three years old “because they didn't have a working car and didn't want to ask friends or family for help.” Those same court documents also state that if the child’s neglect had gone on much longer, “she would have eventually died.”

When officials first visited the Dyers' home in October and witnessed the little girl experience a seizure, the child was immediately taken the hospital. The Coloradoan shared excerpts from a police report which stated that at the time, the Dyers’ daughter only weighed 37 pounds. Doctors who have been treating her now say that the child’s seizures were not caused by a pre-existing condition but are “the result of serious neglect.”

Documents reportedly show Douglas Dyer told police he ignored his daughter's seizures because he believed they were "spells" and said he tried to have their home blessed to get rid of spirits.

Police on Monday said the girl is currently living with a foster family and is regaining her health.

Now, six months after being placed into foster care, the little girl has gained weight, has grown nearly six inches, and is progressing successfully through physical therapy and speech therapy. “She continues to make marked improvements out of the Dyers’ custody,” according to the Fort Collins Police.