It’s been nine years since a little girl was rescued from a home in appalling conditions in Florida. The little girl was six-year-old Danielle and she was malnourished and wearing a diaper when police officers found her.
The little girl had lived in the home for most of her life, but neighbors had only recently noticed her looking out the windows of the home. It was a neighbor who had called the police out of concern for the child.
Detective Mark Holste of Florida’s Plant City Police Department was the officer who responded to the call and found Danielle.
“There [were] animal feces on the floor, there was chewed-up food everywhere, there was trash everywhere and there were spider webs hanging from the ceiling,” Holste said about the condition of the home. “There were thousands and thousands of cockroaches.”
“When I walked in the room, her eyes were open very, very wide when she saw me,” Holste recalled. “Her mouth dropped open and she did a little crab-walk into the corner, and tucked her knees up to her mouth and put her hands around her knees. And started making grunting noises.”
Danielle had suffered from severe neglect and was left to care for herself. She had no language skills and could only understand a few words.
Danielle was removed from the home and adopted by a couple named Bernie and Diane Lierow. Her mother spent 26 hours in jail and was sentenced to two years of house arrest followed by three years of probation.
Her parental rights were also terminated.
The couple who adopted Danielle said that progress was slow at first and that they struggled to teach Danielle to act civilized.
“When Danielle first came to live with us, she was a couple months from being 8 years old,” Diane said. “She didn’t like walking and she loved being carried.”
“She would have tantrums seven or eight times a day,” Bernie added.
“Food was a constant concern of hers,” Diane added. “She would eat it until she threw up.”
They claim that Danielle is continuing to make progress and has bonded well with her father and brothers. She has failed to bond with Diane, but the couple believes that is because she suffered so much abuse at the hands of her mother and relates the abuse to all women.
The Lierows are proud of the progress Danielle has made and say that she is still learning and that every day is a challenge but also an adventure.
“Having Dani in my life, it has been a rollercoaster ride,” Bernie said. “And I don’t want to get off.”
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