Author of children’s book and husband charged with abusing their own kids
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She wrote a children’s book about friendship — then allegedly abused and neglected her 8-year-old adopted daughter so bad she’s been hospitalized for weeks, according to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.
And that’s just the beginning of the accusations against Florida author Jennifer Wolfthal.
Wolfthal, the author of “A Real Friend,” aimed at 4-year-olds and up, was arrested on multiple counts of child abuse along with her husband Joseph Wolfthal, 39, an engineer for Lockheed Martin.
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Jennifer Wolfthal, 41, was first arrested on Jan. 1 on aggravated child abuse, child neglect with great bodily harm and domestic violence charges. Then police booked her again this week on additional charges of false imprisonment.
(Seminole County Sheriff’s Office)
On New Year’s Day, Joseph Wolfthal brought a little girl to the hospital with injuries he said she’d suffered during a handful of accidents at home, according to police documents. But investigators didn’t believe his story.
“Due to the height and weight of [the girl], it is not likely the swollen bruise on the back of her head and the laceration on her lip and broken tooth were caused by off balance falls,” the police report reads.
Wolfthal had also claimed the girl injured her mouth by brushing her teeth too hard and might have been suffering from vertigo. According to the police report, the girl was suffering from a long list of conditions including a staph infection, kidney and liver failure, malnourishment, open wounds and bruises, and more. She told investigators she’d been isolated from her siblings and other adults for months or years.
While the girl was in the hospital, investigators visited the family home and said they found two other children with “symptoms of malnourishment, bruises and lack of care.”
Police said the children’s bedrooms had their doorknobs installed backwards, with the locks on the outside.
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Following Jennifer Wolfthal’s arrest at the start of January, the couple filed for divorce, according to WFTV. Joseph Wolfthal is seeking sole custody of all three of their adopted kids.
He accused Jennifer Wolfthal of abusing him and locking him in the laundry room earlier this month. But now he’s facing charges, too.
Two of their three adopted children, a 9-year-old boy and 11-year-old girl, have been placed in foster care. The 8-year-old remains hospitalized, police records show.
The adoptive parents are accused of locking their kids in their rooms for weeks at a time, and they allegedly dumped cold water on them in bed and withheld food.
Investigators said they found more than 1,100 written paragraphs reading: “My body stays flat on the bed at all times. I was never given permission to move or say anything. Now I get to write about this along with everything else. I am a fool.”
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Jennifer Wolfthal’s website was not accessible Wednesday evening. She’s due back in court on March 9.
Her publisher, Clavis, said in a statement to local media that it would “cease commercialization of her book” and indicated they had parted ways.
The book is still for sale on Amazon, but reviewers have been filling the comments with links to news articles about the allegations against the author.
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