DCF: Lake County girl who nearly starved to death recovering

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TAVARES, Fla. - A Lake County girl who nearly starved to death is gaining strength and hope thanks to Channel 9 viewers.

Her parents, John and Jacqueline Bailey, are accused of locking the refrigerator to prevent the 11-year-old from eating.

They are now out of jail.

The girl has already gained 10 pounds after being placed with a foster family, said Carrie Hoeppner with the Department of Children and Families.

DCF officials said the home in an upscale neighborhood in Tavares was a prison for the 11-year-old girl who lived inside.

Her dad, John Bailey, was a teacher's assistant who used to coach basketball and bought food for his players all the time.

DCF officials said a simple call to them very likely saved her life.

No one answered at the home Tuesday but according to the parent's arrest report, they put locks on their fridge and pantry to keep her out and made her exercise daily inside the home in an effort to exhaust her so she wouldn't look for food in the middle of the night.

"As an 11-year-old girl coming into our care, she weighed roughly 42 pounds. For a child of that age, that is just an unrealistic weight," Hoeppner said.

Hoeppner said to have found an 11-year-old child who appeared to look 4 or 6 was a staggering image.

Strangers are reaching out on social media to make the girl's life a better one.

She's had offers to visit Disney and another to Islands of Adventure.

In addition to a trip to the theme parks, the girl mentioned she'd like some new clothes for school.

DCF is looking for donations of gift cards so the girl can go shopping.

LINK:  Florida Dept. of Children and Families Facebook page