KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Investigators said a 5-year-old Osceola County girl was forced to live in a dirty home off of fruit and water, and her parents told investigators they padlocked the refrigerator to keep her from eating sugary foods.
Deputies were called to the Club Cortile apartment complex in Kissimmee Thursday after a security guard spotted the young girl throwing rocks with a few other children.
“He approached the children, indicated he was going to talk to her parents, and a 5-year-old said that her parents weren’t home,” said Twis Lizasuain with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.
The child also told deputies the only thing she’d eaten all day was watermelon and water.
“None of her parents were home. The house was in disarray. There were live and dead roached all throughout the home,” Lizasuain said.
When Channel 9’s Kenneth Craig stopped by the apartment today, he saw watermelon in trash bags outside.
Deputies contacted the girl’s parents Thursday night, who were both at work.
The father, Mohamed Khoja, told authorities the lock on the chain and lock on the fridge was to keep the girl away from sugary foods.
Khoja, along with the girl’s mother, Sakina Hamcho, were both arrested for child neglect.
During an emergency hearing this morning, a judge ruled the situation was so bad the girl must be put in the state’s care.
Authorities said it seemed the child didn’t fully understand the situation she was living in.
“She seemed like she was in good health, and it didn’t seem to bother her that her parents weren’t home,” Lizasuain said.
DCF investigators did not say if they’ve been called to the home before, because those records are not public.
Neither parent has a criminal history in Florida, however, and the Sheriff’s Office said it’s never been called to their home before.
DCF is in the process of investigating the family to see if the child will be returned.