Local News

'No one would listen:' Grandmother tried to report girl's abuse before Raleigh couple's arrest

Posted June 6, 2018 4:13 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:14 a.m. EDT

— A Raleigh couple has been charged with inflicting "serious mental injury" on their daughter for two years.

Russell Jay Smith, 47, and Lindsey Michelle Smith, 38, are charged with negligent child abuse inflicting serious physical injury and misdemeanor child abuse.

According to warrants, they intentionally caused serious mental injury to their child starting when the child was 11-years old.

Court documents suggest the child was exposed to extreme isolation for years, forced to stay in a standing position for hours and there was a failure to provide education to the child.

Prosecutors say she was kept in extreme isolation and was not allowed to communicate with siblings.

The child had been removed from the public school system for two years.

Russell Smith appeared in court by video.

"There is nothing I would like better than to go back and clear my name," he said.

The Smiths were charged after a concerned grandmother made a phone call.

"It's not the first phone call I've made," said the girl's grandmother, Tammy McKinney. "There have been years that I have tried to do things. A grandmother in Texas has no rights. No one would listen."

This time, someone did listen after McKinney got a message from her 17-year-old granddaughter on Snapchat.

"Russ was holding her there and I think she had blood on her," McKinney said. "And then I got the picture of the black eye and she said, 'Help, call the cops,' and I said 'I'm calling them right now.'"

Police and Child Protective Services got involved with the couple, who has a blended family including five children. They were charged with abusing a younger child and investigators said the abuse began when the girl was 11 years old and lasted for two years.

They said she would stand in a corner for hours at a time, was smacked in the face and had her hair pulled.

"It's so outrageous to me. They are clearly sick. I think that alcohol and drugs probably played a huge role in it," McKinney said.

McKinney said she is estranged from her daughter, but maintains contact with her grandchildren.

"Within two years of them marrying, I was cut out of their lives completely," she said.

Each of the Smiths are in jail under a $100,000 bond.

The couple is not allowed to have contact with their child.

They will appear in court later this month.