Parents convicted of feeding vomit to adopted children: “It was just discipline.”

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Wisconsin- As parents, we’re tasked with preparing our children for the world, while providing guidance and a safe haven whilst in they’re in our care. Sadly, that’s not always how things turn out.

A shocking verdict has made its way out of a courtroom based out of Wisconsin involving a former state trooper who was accused abusing their adopted children.

Sharon Windey, 55, buried her head in produced what some would call crocodile tears when a judge read out that she was guilty of eight counts of felony charges of physical child abuse, causing mental harm to a child, and strangulation and suffocation.

The court heard how the four victims, who are now in their teens, were punched, choked and force-fed vomit by their adoptive parents. Windey, of De Pere, Wisconsin, was convicted following a six-day trial, while her husband, Donald, 53, has also been accused of abusing their adoptive children.

Prosecutors had painted a grisly story inside of the Brown County Circuit Court, detailing that the abuse lasted 12 years before Windey was charged in March 2018. One could only imagine the horrors that ensued while the children were in their care.

Police were contacted several times by school officials, social workers and a myriad of other people who had claimed that the couple and their biological son, Steven, 27, were abusing the three children, according to a criminal complaint.

Police had finally taken the time to hear the perspective of the allegedly abused when the children had been involved in what was described as a physical altercation in the home when they refused to go to church in February 2018.

It was then that authorities heard the full scale of horrific abuse they were subjected to.

The children told police that Donald, their adoptive father, forced one of them to eat their own vomit-covered food after they got sick during a meal, according to the criminal complaint.

They also alleged Donald made the girls strip down to their underwear, sit on his lap and have what the children referred to as “kissing sessions.”

The children wen into detail as to how Windey, a former state trooper, used “excessive feedings of oatmeal” as a form of punishment, and would lock the kitchen cabinets so the children couldn’t access other food themselves.

In the same criminal complaint, the children said Steven put his hand around one of their throats during an incident in February 2018.

The children also had claimed that they were forced to participate in a strange sort of prayer ceremonial, where they would balance themselves on a single foot, clad only in their underwear, and would be beaten if they’d lost balance.

A fourth child, who had moved out of the house when she turned 18, told investigators she was subjected to similar abuse when she lived with the couple and their son.

The adoptive parents and their biological son were all arrested back in February of 2018. As of this time Windey is out on bond pending sentencing on January 13 and is required to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet.

During the trial, she appeared stoic and during her testimony Friday, she told the jury her adopted children were lying about being abused. The prosecutor retorted with:

“If all the kids are consistently saying this happened through the years…. years! They’re lying?” Windey replied: “Some of the things they’re lying about. There’s some threads of truth to it, but a lot of this stuff was just being fabricated.”

Windey chalked it all up to the kids being disobedient and needing discipline.  

Windey did say that she doled out physical punishments like making them do door push-ups or stair runs, as well as making them write essays, taking the doors off their bedrooms, and giving many of their belongings to charity after a fight.

Windey told the court:

“Your life can be taken away from you in a minute, just like that, because people say things and that’s it, no evidence. You can’t just discipline without love. These children are very manipulative, and they know how to use things against each other.”

Donald will next appear in court on December 17 to face a string of felony and misdemeanor offenses.

The range of offenses cover all sort of abuse related felonies and misdemeanors, not to mention, he has also been charged with three counts of repeated sexual assault of a child, likely stemming from the alleged “kissing sessions”.

Steven Windey, the couple’s biological son, will next appear in court on February 7 for a plea hearing over two felony charges of child abuse and attempted strangulation and suffocation, and a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.

In the meantime in Brooklyn, police were dealing with an entirely different family incident.

It’s not often you hear about instances where the police call a citizen for help, but in this strange turn of events that avoided tragedy and saved two lives, that’s an accurate description of what led to the success of stopping a senseless act of self-harm and violence in Brooklyn, New York.

A Brooklyn mother who was suffering from postpartum-depression had nearly succeeded in taking her own life, as well as the life of her 6-month old child. By some miracle, a gun shop owner from the Poconos and a quick-on-their-feet NYPD officer managed to work together to foil the mother’s intended plot.

The mother, who lives in Pennsylvania, but who had been staying with family in Brooklyn, picked her daughter up from daycare early on Friday. After scooping up her kid, that’s when the disturbing messages starting getting sent to her own mother, Latika Thorpe, and to her sister, according to a report from the Post.

Parents convicted of feeding vomit to adopted children: "It was just discipline."
Officer Schack worked with a gun store owner in Pennsylvania to stop a murder-suicide. (Twitter)

 

The woman, whose name is being withheld, sent messages like, “Can’t go on like this anymore,” and had implied that she intended to kill herself and her baby.

After the family started getting the strange cries for help, they contacted the NYPD for assistance. They explained that the new mom had been depressed after the birth of her daughter and wasn’t answering her phone and might be headed to home to Pennsylvania to kill herself and the baby.

Officer Michelle Schack and her partner Officer Gulrej Nandha rushed to the family’s Canarsie home.

When recounting the events to local news, Officer Schack stated, “Time was of the essence. We gotta stop this woman somehow and she has a baby and herself to think about. We were able to use our department cell phones to track the vehicle and we saw it was going over the Verrazano Bridge”

Latika Thorpe confirmed that was the route the young mother took to get home to her Pennsylvania house.

Schack made a mental list of options.

She could activate an Amber Alert with the New York State Police, and beyond that, hope someone would find them. But then the woman’s sister Latika expressed her concern to the officer over how easy it was to get a gun in Pennsylvania if she intended on harm to herself or her child.

That’s when things began to click, according to Schack.

“That’s when I just started quick thinking, ‘Let’s call gun shops.’ That’s most likely where she was heading to.”

She asked Thorpe if there were any on the way to the family’s Poconos home, but she wasn’t sure. Well, when using Google, Schack had located a shop called Pocono Mountain Firearms in Scotrun, which was right on the woman’s drive home.   

 

Schack called the owner to see if he’d seen a woman and a baby inside the store, going so far as to describe their vehicle and appearance, to which he replied that he hadn’t.

But that all changed in a matter of minutes.

“Within two minutes he called back and said ‘They’re here’. I said you have to stall them,” Schack said.

The owner of the store, Michael Conforti, initially thought the call was a rouse or a prank. His mindset immediately shifted once he hung up the phone and saw the woman and the baby described moments earlier standing right there in his shop. 

When looking back at the moment, Conforti said, “That’s when the red flags started popping up.”

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Parents convicted of feeding vomit to adopted children: "It was just discipline."

 

Employees from the store noticed the woman’s odd mood, which he said could be read on her face at the time. When she was approached for help, she stated that she wanted to buy a gun. 

By that point, Conforti realized even if it was a prank, he’d rather err on the side of caution. He called 911 as the NYPD had instructed him and tried to stall the woman as she filled out the paperwork to purchase a “small handgun.”

Parents convicted of feeding vomit to adopted children: "It was just discipline."
Pocono Mountain Firearms in Scotrun (Google Maps)

 

Soon enough, the Pocono Mountain Regional Police arrived and brought the mom and the baby to a local hospital for evaluation. If it wasn’t for Schack’s quick thinking, and the help of the out-of-state gun shop owner, things might not have turned out so well.

Schack commented on the responsive of local police and the appreciation of the family of the young woman.

“I was hoping the police were gonna get there quickly and everyone was gonna be safe. The second I heard [she was there] it was amazing. The grandma thanked me, the sister thanked me, they said you two went over and beyond. Most cops wouldn’t have done this. This was amazing what you did.”

 


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