Jacksonville girl says she was handcuffed, locked in closet; mother charged with child neglect

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The discovery of "an extremely weak and emaciated" girl in a Jacksonville home has ended with her 37-year-old mother behind bars on a child-neglect charge, the Sheriff's Office said.

The girl was being treated at Wolfson Children's Hospital for "malnourishment and injuries" after she said she was handcuffed and tied down while locked in a closet for almost a month, the report said. The address where she was arrested was redacted in the report, as was the age of the child.

Alexandra Leone Ebey was arrested on Dec. 14 on the felony charge and remains jailed on $50,000 bail, according to jail records.

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Alexandra Ebey told an investigator girl was camping with her grandparents

Florida's Department of Children and Families joined the Sheriff's Office to search for the girl, concerned about her health and worried she might be dead, the report said. The complainant said she had been at the home in early December seeking the girl as part of an open DCF investigation but was told she had gone camping with grandparents.

The complainant checked, and the grandparents said they had not seen the girl in months, the report said. The investigators went back to the home on Dec. 14 and spoke with Ebey, who said the girl was in the bathroom and would be out soon, the report said. Ebey brought the child out, but was hesitant to allow the DCF investigator to examine her closely, the report said. Then Ebey said she had to use the bathroom, and the investigator was able to examine the girl more closely.

The child appeared emaciated and weak, with "open wounds covering the length of her body," the report said. Parts of her skin were falling off, it says.

Ebey told investigators the girl had received the injuries while with someone whose name was redacted and was handcuffed and tied as they played "cowboys and Indians," the report said.

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department was called in to check out the girl's condition and said she was being neglected and had festering "old and new wounds" that had not been treated, the report said.

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Girl says she was tied up with belt and rope, locked up for 25 days

At the hospital, the girl said that she had been tied up with a belt and rope, handcuffed and locked in a closet for 25 days, and had only been released six days before officers arrived, the report said. While in the closet, she said she had to use a bucket as a bathroom.

Injuries found on her wrists and ankles were consistent with being handcuffed "for a long period of time," the report added. The girl had bruises on her head and neck, while she was so thin her ribs and spine were visible when she was examined, the report said.

A search of Duval County court records shows a November 2019 child support order mandating that Ebey pay child support for boys about 10 and 14 and a girl who was about 5. The complaint for child support, which lists the children's birth years, was filed by her husband and Florida's Department of Revenue.

The children's father, Ross William Ebey Jr., 35, died March 12, 2020, according to an obituary.

The arrest report indicates that DCF was seeking other family members to place the girl's siblings, but officials at the department could not comment further about the case.

dscanlan@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4549

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Jacksonville mom arrested after 'weak and emaciated' girl found in home

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