Sheriff: Jackson County boy’s health improving following alleged child neglect

RIPLEY, W.Va. — The condition of a two-year-old boy hospitalized after an alleged child neglect case in Jackson County is improving.

Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger announced on Facebook Wednesday evening the boy has been taken off a ventilator.

“I’m happy to report this evening that he is off the vent and making substantial strides for his better health. He’s far from recovered and far from out of the woods, but he certainly has made some monumental strides since this time last week,” Mellinger said.

The boy was rushed to the hospital after he was found unresponsive at an apartment in Ripley on May 8. Deputies said the boy was malnourished and dehydrated.

The boy’s parents, Michael Gillenwater, 24, Lylee Gillenwater, 21, and Lylee’s boyfriend Brian Casto, 22, were all charged with child neglect resulting in injury.

Casto in the same home with the Gillenwaters, who are were married.

On Wednesday, Casto waived his preliminary hearing. Charges against him will next be considered by a grand jury.

A Jackson County magistrate found probable cause in the cases against the Gillenwaters and sent their charges to circuit court Tuesday.

According to a criminal complaint, it was determined at Jackson General Hospital the boy had been “severely malnourished with signs of kidney failure.”

The boy has a twin brother who was also unhealthy, but did not need to be hospitalized.

Court records indicate the floor and two mattresses in the boys’ bedroom were soiled with feces and urine. Deputies believed they were only fed pieces of ground beef and cereal, not given water and drugged with medicine to sleep.

In his video, Mellinger referred to the three suspects as “dirtbags” and said they won’t give up until justice is served.

“Moving forward, we wish nothing but the best for the victims and we’re going to do everything we can to aggressively prosecute, convict and ultimately sentence the three responsible for this,” the sheriff said.

The three suspects remain in the South Central Regional Jail and each have a $150,000 bond.