The 4 Brothers Who Were Nearly Starved To Death By Their Parents | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN

The 4 Brothers Who Were Nearly Starved To Death By Their Parents | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN


It was a headline that
really made us sick. Four young boys starved
by their own parents. Nobody knew what was going
on inside their house until it broke wide open
with this call to 911. OPRAH: That 911 call
from a next door neighbor prompted police to
take a closer look inside this New Jersey home. What they found was
a house of horrors. Four young boys with
emaciated bodies, literally starving to death. Bruce, who neighbors
thought was a little boy, was in fact 19 years-old
and weighed only 45 pounds. Treshawn was 14 and
weighed 40 pounds. Terrell was 10 and
weighed 28 pounds. And 9-year-old Michael was
found wearing baby clothes, weighing a mere 23 pounds. All four boys had been
adopted years earlier by Raymond and Vanessa Jackson. Friends described them
as a church-going couple, loving parents who opened
their home to foster children in need. The Jacksons claim their four
sons were so small because they suffered from eating disorders. The boys told police
they were given only raw oatmeal and
pancake batter to eat. When authorities removed
the boys from the home, they were filthy, had
rotted teeth and head lice. Police found a lock on the
refrigerator and an alarm on the kitchen door. Bite marks discovered
around the house supported one
boy’s claim that he was so hungry he chewed on the
windowsills and wall plaster. This is by far the
most horrific case of child abuse and
child neglect that we have seen over the years. OPRAH: Vanessa and
Raymond Jackson were charged with 28 counts
of aggravated assault and child endangerment. Raymond Jackson died of a
stroke during the investigation. Almost two years after
he was found scrounging for scraps in the garbage, Bruce
faced Vanessa Jackson in court. He had grown over a foot
and gained nearly 100 pounds since leaving her home. JUDGE: How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty? Guilty. OPRAH: Vanessa Jackson
pled guilty to one charge of child
endangerment in exchange for a reduced sentence. She served four years of
a seven-year prison term and was released in
February of this year. She continues to deny she
ever starved or hurt the boys. So, we talked to Vanessa
Jackson’s daughter who told us that her mother had
no interest in talking to me. And I just wanted to say
to you, Vanessa, any time, anywhere I will meet you so
that you can explain this to me. Let’s see those photos again. Treshawn was 14 and 40 pounds. A typical 14-year-old
weighs 115 pounds. 40 pounds is what a normal
4 or 5-year-old weighs. Terrell was 10 and 28 pounds. The average 10-year-old
should be about 70 pounds. 28 pounds is the average
weight of a 2-year-old. And Michael was 9
and just 23 pounds. Most 9-year-olds
weigh about 60 pounds. 23 pounds is the average weight
of an 18-month-old toddler. That was seven years ago. Those brave young brothers
have been through a living hell and are here with
their triumphant story. Come on out, Treshawn,
Terrell, and Michael. [APPLAUSE] Woo! Wow! Wow!
Wow! Wow!
Wow! Wow!
Wow! Wow!
Wow! Wow! Wow! Victory.
Victory. Victory. Well, you guys are looking good! – Thank you.
– You’re looking really good. – Thank you.
– Really good. I want to say, Bruce isn’t here. But Bruce is really
the hero of this story. Is he not?
– Yes. Yes. Because had he not gone out in
the middle of the night looking in the trash for food, you might
still be trapped in that house. And even be dead. And might even be dead. Tell me what you remember
about those years. Back when living
with the Jacksons, it was a house of horror. Anything thing you did, they
would punish you for it. Well, when would
you all– obviously, you all were starved. But you had to have something
to eat over the years, otherwise you would
have been dead. Would you– were you
allowed to eat once a day or how often were you allowed– I guess– I guess it was all–
– Maybe once a day. It was like all depends
how she was feeling. You never knew, like, how
many times you was going to eat. And sometimes, when she
did call you in there, she would give
you a certain time limit that she would give you. She’d call you in
and be like, well, you have a minute
to eat all this. And if you don’t
finish it, you’re not going to get your next meal. So, when we would
go in there, we would be rushing, just
stuffing food in our mouth, hoping that we can hurry up
and finish and feed ourselves. So we can get the next meal. So tell me this, had
you come to her as– how old were you when
you first moved there? The age I came at
the Jackson’s house was 5-years-old. 5-years-old. And how old were you? I was 2. You were 2. And I was at least a year. A year old. So, you were little babies
brought in for foster care. – Yes.
– Yeah. Yes. And then, did she
eventually adopt you? Yes. After two years. After two years. Were you fed at first?
– Yes. The first two years, yes. And after that, that’s
when everything changed. That’s when the Vanessa
Jackson that we know now started coming out. Yeah. And what happened? Do you know what happened
after that two years? To tell you the
truth, I really don’t know what happened. It just hit us. Did you all go to church? Because we saw that they
were church-going people. Well, when we went in
church, they basically like stuff like sweaters, hoodies. And they like made us
wear like thick clothes to make us look like we were
healthy and stuff like that. Sometimes, they had us wear
like three to four sweaters just to make ourselves
look like we were big and we were healthy when
we really weren’t at all. So, did you ever
think to tell somebody? When I was going to school– when I was going
to school and I was telling my teacher
about it, but then my teacher wouldn’t believe me. So eventually, the
Jacksons found out that I was telling my teacher. And they eventually took
me out of the school and tried to
homeschool us about it. Really? What did you tell your teacher? That– I started telling her
like, I’m hungry, and I’m not– and my teacher was
like, she noticed because I like was
getting skinnier and skinnier all the time. And then sometimes, I
would actually come there asking my teacher for food. But she didn’t believe you? No, ma’am. And obviously you told
somebody, so that your– Vanessa Jackson found out. Yes. And then homeschooled you all. And after you were
homeschooled, you had no access to the outside world. No.
Not at all. You were just
locked in the house. Locked in the house.

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