Helena community gathers for prayer vigil after boy found trapped in basement

October 02 2021 06:00 pm

HELENA, Ala. (WIAT) — People came together in Helena on Thursday evening to pray for a 14-year-old boy who is fighting for his life in the hospital.

The community learned  from police earlier this week that the teen was left in his parent’s basement for an “extended period of time,” starved, neglected and near death.

“How could this happen here? This is what happens in other parts of the country. Not in the town where we live,” said Jan Nicholson, who attended the prayer vigil with her daughter, Ava.

“It makes me feel sad because I feel that everyone should be treated nicely and that everyone should have a good life,” said Ava, 11.

Because of the boy’s age, police and the Department of Human Resources are not releasing his name, but that doesn’t matter to the people praying for him.

“I hope this touches this boy and that it motivates him and shows him how much we do care, that he’s not forgotten, that we love him,” said Lisa Nichols, who helped organize the vigil.

Helena’s mayor, Mark Hall, also attended.

“There’s no way to measure the hurt that’s involved in this for this young man,” Hall said. “The fact that he has survived, we’re grateful. But the situation and the time that he endured — the sufferage is just intolerable.”

Hall said he and the Helena Police Department are committed to prosecuting the child’s adoptive parents, Cynthia and Richard Kelly, both charged with aggravated child abuse, to the fullest extent of the law.

Hall and his community are also committed to standing by the child while he recovers.

“We will not just pray tonight,” Nicholson said. “We will continue to pray and we will continue to rally as a community.”

The Kellys are in the Shelby County Jail, held on $1,000,000 bond each. Cynthia Kelly has a preliminary court appearance scheduled for Dec. 14. Her husband is set to appear the next day.

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