Briana Heaney Published

Legislators Call For Action Following Fatal Neglect Of Boone County Teen

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State Sen. Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, said he hopes the governor will allow his bill to be taking up during the upcoming special session that would analyze incidents like this and recommend preventative and proactive policy.
Perry Bennett/WV Legislative Photography

A Boone County teen was found deceased in her home earlier this month. Police say she was emaciated to a near skeletal state. It’s now come to light via a Freedom of Information Act Request filed by West Virginia Watch that the child was being homeschooled.  

After a legislative session that swirled with debate around homeschooling and child welfare, some are left wondering what could have been done to avoid this.

Sen. Mike Woelfel, D-Cabell, said sources in Boone County have confirmed that the teen had not been in school since 2019. He says while he doesn’t want to name blame, the legislature should consider contributing factors.

“She was a living, breathing teenager. Like any other teenager that had a right to life, and that was she was deprived of that in a horrific way,” Woelfel said. “So it’s a wake up call for everybody in the legislature.”

Woelfel was the lead sponsor of a bill that would set up a critical review team tasked with discussing incidents involving deaths, and near deaths of children in the state. It passed unanimously in the Senate but was never voted on in the House of Delegates. 

Woelfel has asked the governor to allow the bill to be considered in the upcoming special session.