High Point Enterprise Newspaper Archives Jun 23 1974, Page 88

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High Point Enterprise (Newspaper) - June 23, 1974, High Point, North Carolina Justice is elusive in Rural w. Virginia by St rat Douthat associated press writer Point pleasant w a. Api a times were Tough for Joseph and Lillian Mitchell Back in the fall of 1967. He was hobbled by various ailments and was working Only a few Days a month driving a truck for a neighbor she took housekeeping jobs to supplement their meager income. The Mitchells farm Folk lived in the county Community of Leon a few Miles East of this Ohio River town. They had no indoor plumbing and the House was heated by an open fireplace Money was hard to come by. It was during this period that the Mitchells a a childless couple approaching Middle age applied to the state welfare department to become Foster parents a program whereby participants receive a nominal sum for the Upkeep of children who have nowhere else to go or who have been removed from Homes with environments deemed unsuitable by the state. The application was accepted almost immediately and by february of that year they began caring for a 4-year-old boy and hts 6-year-old sister. The years passed and the children. Wesley and Virginia Williams attended the local Grade school in the Spring of last year the Mitchells were awarded a plaque from the welfare department commemorating their nearly seven years of caring for Wesley and Virginia. Then one Day last december. Wesley a by now a Freckl faced fourth grader a arrived at school complaining of numbness in his hands at the prodding of Leon elementary school principal Lois Shinn. Wesley a who occasionally was reprimanded for hiding food from the school lunch program in his desk a told a Story that sent mrs. Shinn scurrying to the welfare department. According to Wesley. Mrs. Shinn testified in circuit court Here last week the Mitchells whose primary source id income during the past seven years had been the Money they received to feed House and clothe the children had a tied him and his sister to their Beds with a rope most of the nearly 3.500 nights the children had been with the Mitchells. Wesley was bound hand and Waist and Virginia Waist Only. A had kept the children tied in bed and unable to use the toilet from 6 30 in the evening to 6 30 . On school Days and until As late As 9 30 . On weekends and during the summer. A had kept the children in a darkened room latched from the outside. A had fed them a diet consisting mainly of Oatmeal and Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches. A had threatened to beat them if they Ever disclosed their plight. A and had generally mistreated and abused them both physically and psychologically Ever since they toddled through the door of the Mitchell Home. Mrs. Shinn notified the it Tate welfare department and an investigator immediately removed the children from the Home the Mitchells since divorced were indicted on charges of child abuse a Misdemeanour in West Virginia and punishable by not More than one year in jail it was hot and humid in circuit judge James Lee Thompson s courtroom As the Case headed toward a Climax last monday afternoon. Hie air conditioning was on the blink and the monotonous hum of an electric fan forced the score of spectators and the dozen jurors to lean Forward in their seats and Strain to hear the testimony. The spectators watched in anticipation As the boy looking far younger than his la years clambered up the High Steps to the jury Box. There was something elfin about him despite his Blue suit and tie and his freshly brushed hair. A my Mon tied me up Quot he whispered in response to a question from Mason county prosecuting attorney Don Kingery. His diet he told the jurors consisted mainly of Oatmeal and Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches. A about once a year we got Chicken a he said Virginia a pretty girl with Brown pigtails followed her Street paint co. 321 n. Wrenn is. Tel. 882-1510 r str Cau 882-2576 i of North main a 21 4 Virginia Wesley Williams at trial Little brother to the witness Box. She sat Down slowly careful not to wrinkle her new plaid dress and began playing nervously with her pigtails As she awaited the questions sometimes we d get potatoes and bread. A testified Virginia who said she had gained More than to pounds since leaving the Mitchell Home asked Why she never told anyone of the situation she put her face Down into her arms and began to cry. A because my dad said he d beat me if i told anybody she choked out Between sobs she testified later she had purposely tried to hide from her schoolmates the permanent rope Burn around her Waist. She said she was ashamed of the i Inch wide ring around her Abdomen. During the morning testimony mrs Shinn told of How she Felt Wesley had suffered psychological damage a former welfare department caseworker said he had visited the Mitchell Home some to times during the year he had been assigned to the Home. The worker. David Lyon. Said he had never witnessed any evidence of mistreatment. He also acknowledged that the welfare department caseworker assigned to the Mitchell Home had never been in the House during the six months the Williams children Wert her responsibility. Wesley said he could never remember living with his natural parents. He began his testimony referring to his former Foster parents As a pm oms and later in his testimony it was a emr. Mitchell and mrs. Mitchell a Joseph Mitchell a stooped bespectacled Man of 54 who walks with a pronounced Limp seemed bewildered by what he was hearing. He repeatedly cupped his hand behind his hearing Aid and strained Forward in his seat. Lillian Mitchell was More demonstrative than her former husband. She vigorously Shook her head causing her Long Gray Ponytail to swish Back and Forth when the children testified of being tied and otherwise mistreated. And she huddled urgently with her attorney As or. Roy Eshenauer the Point pleasant physician who examined the children testified he believed the boy had suffered from malnutrition and the girl s rope Burns were permanent. After the doctor a Parade of defense witnesses attested to the characters of the Mitchells. Mrs. Mitchells Mother said she had always liked to visit her daughters Home a because i knew id get a Good each of the witnesses testified he or she had never seen the Mitchells mistreat Wesley and Virginia. They also said they had seen the children eat nourishing food other than sandwiches and Oatmeal. Testifying in his own behalf Mitchell said he had never threatened the children and had spanked or whipped them Only when they needed it a like any other father a he said he had never been in the children a bedroom after they were put to bed and therefore could neither refute nor confirm the childrens accusations that mrs. Mitchell had tied them with ropes she kept beneath their mattresses. Mitchell did say however that it was his wife who had put the Hook Latch on the outside of the bedroom Virginia and Wesley shared. A they never complained to me about nothing a he said. Kingery asked Mitchell a who said the children had been underfed when they arrived at his Home and had since fared Well a if Locking Wesley and Virginia into their room Wasny to potentially dangerous. A what if the House bad caught fire what would they have done a the prosecutor asked. A Well a Mitchell responded with a shrug a they could have hollered for protect your family May be too late. Family Protection Ufi insurance helping you through life Dave Bishop sales manager 120 w. Lexington ave. High Point , 882-3378 just Hentic mrs. Mitchell was the last person to take the stand. She denied All the charges and said she Felt she had taken Good care of the children. She said the state welfare department apparently had thought so too. Mrs. Mitchell 43, said she had never seen the permanent scar that circles Virginia a Waist but added that while she had prepared the children s Bath water she had not personally investigated for several years whether they had actually bathed and therefore had not closely inspected their bodies however she said the ring was not apparent when she and her Mother had observed Virginia trying on dresses about a year ago mrs. Mitchell a admitted spanking the children but said she had never punished them excessively nor had she threatened them she said she had put the Hook Latch on the outside of the door to ensure the children climb out of their Beds during the night and get too near the fire a i guess. A she concluded after pondering the question further a i guess you could say i was an overprotective Mother at this Point both sides rested their cases and judge Thompson asked Kingery if he wanted to Call any rebuttal witnesses. When Kingery said he wanted Lyon to come Back to the witness Box. Defense lawyer a a. Anderson a big Bear of a Man with a Crew Cut jumped up and said he would move for a mistrial if the state having rested its Case tried to elicit any direct testimony from Lyon. Quot no rebuttal a quipped Kingery. Who for the past two hours bad obviously become increasingly confident. In the aside with Anderson the prosecuting attorney apparently was feigning Surprise. It was a Little private joke in which he chided the defense attorney for not a Parachute wins style championship Tahlequah okla. Apis Jack Brake an army parachutist from it. Bragg has won the style Competition in the National parachuting championships Brake s average after five rounds was 7.72 seconds Stan Hicks of Newport news. Va., was second. Brake was also leading in the menus Overall standings Cusing the state of attempting to impeach the credibility of mrs. Mitchell whose testimony conflicted with some of that Given earlier by Lyon a your Honor. I object. A Anderson said to the judge. A the jury heard that and i think you ought to declare a the judge pondered the Point for a moment called the attorneys to the Bench for a conference and then declared a mistrial. Quot i was just afraid some of the members of the jury might have been prejudiced by the prosecutor s remark a he explained later. He Abo said the Case would be reset for later in the current court term. The Mitchells showed no emotion at the judge s action. They filed out of the courtroom separately after the children had left apparently bound for the new Home in which they were placed after being taken from the Mitchells. The spectators were the last to leave a you know a said a woman As she walked out with a Friend. A i never heard the word a love mentioned once All Security guards in Mewe relies am Iii. My to text will protect Davis patrol i watchman service 126 n mom a High Point . A Coll 8s6-402s serving High Point business with office supplies Jarrette stationery company Quot our 73rd year Quot to Wrynn St. 117-1611 one puce setting 4 pieces of the warm Earth tones of the exceptionally Beautiful Quot Granada stoneware pattern will make a handsome addition to your dining pleasure. To see Quot Granada Quot is to love it. 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