An Indiana mother who pleaded guilty to keeping her 4-year-old son in a cold, dark cellar and contributing to the beatings and starvation that led to his death will serve 42 years behind bars.
Mary Yoder, 27, of La Porte pleaded guilty in August of neglect of a dependent resulting in death, a Level 1 felony, and neglect of a dependent, a Level 5 felony.
On Friday, Judge Thomas Alevizos handed down her sentence of 42 years.
The child’s father, Alan Morgan, previously was sentenced to 70 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to murder and battery.
According to the Times of Northwest Indiana, La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan announced that Yoder’s sentencing “brings to a close this horrible tragedy.”
“Ms. (Mary) Yoder was given a great gift; she was the mother of a young, vivacious Judah… and she squandered it,” the Times quoted Fagan as saying.
Previous stories detail the horrific crime that led to the death of Yoder’s 4-year-old son Judah.
Judah lived in a home with Yoder and Morgan in Hamlet. The young boy’s short life was one of misery, kept in a dark and dank basement where not a single light reportedly worked. The boy was beaten by Morgan for “not being potty trained” and purposely kept in the dark and starved.
Yoder denied taking part in the physical abuse but admitted to keeping her son locked away in the basement even when Morgan was away. She reportedly told deputies she “could’ve put a stop to this but didn’t.”
The boy’s injuries were so horrid that one doctor called the blunt force trauma inflicted upon the boy one of the worst he’d seen in his entire 28-year career.
Several children lived in the home with Yoder and Morgan. Police said the unkempt home was in disarray with garbage, animal feces and rotting food strewn about the residence. A lock was kept on the fridge to prevent anyone from opening it.
Morgan fled from police after they were called to the home in the fall of 2021, knowing 4-year-old Judah would be discovered. He led police on a 119 mph pursuit before finally being caught.
Morgan reportedly pleaded guilty “at the 11th hour,” only after realizing “there was absolutely no chance he could beat this case.”
Morgan also tried to appeal his 70-year sentence but was shot down by the Indiana Court of Appeals who said Morgan was “fortunate” he wasn’t sentenced to an even longer prison sentence as “the record reveals that he is truly one of the worst offenders.”
The Indiana Department of Child Services has been targeted in a lawsuit relating to young Judah’s death. A family member claimed DCS put the boy in harm’s way after returning him to Yoder and Morgan’s home.
Judah had been removed from Morgan’s home when he was four months old due to allegations of abuse under Morgan’s roof. Judah lived with another family member until DCS determined that Judah should be returned to Yoder and Morgan’s home. Judah was found dead six months later.