Police: Tulsa Parents Arrested For Starving Their Daughter - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

News: Crime

Police: Tulsa Parents Arrested For Starving Their Daughter

Posted: Updated:
Booking photos of Mark Knapp and Elizabeth Pester. Booking photos of Mark Knapp and Elizabeth Pester.
Police say Knapp and Pester lived in a Tulsa apartment for the last four years. In December of 2010 they had a little girl. Police say Knapp and Pester lived in a Tulsa apartment for the last four years. In December of 2010 they had a little girl.
Detective Danielle Bishop said DHS took custody of the girl in June of 2012 when she was severely underweight. Detective Danielle Bishop said DHS took custody of the girl in June of 2012 when she was severely underweight.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Tulsa Police are investigating a severe case of child abuse in which they say the toddler might not make it to her third birthday in December.

Police say the toddler is in the hospital in critical condition.

They arrested the parents, Mark Knapp, 48, and Elizabeth Pester, 33, on a complaint of child abuse by neglect.

Police say Knapp and Pester lived in a Tulsa apartment for the last four years. In December of 2010 they had a little girl.

"My gut feeling is the child probably never left the apartment. She can't walk, they claim that she can crawl, the back of her head is completely flat," said Detective Danielle Bishop, Tulsa Police Department.

Detective Bishop said DHS took custody of the girl in June of 2012 when she was severely underweight. 

DHS gave the girl back to her parents and contracted with a private company to perform weekly weight checks beginning in July of that year.

Detective Bishop said those weight checks never happened and no one told police or DHS.

DHS would not identify the private company and released a statement saying, "Situations sometimes occur where parents may try to elude DHS or will not cooperate. We do take our responsibility to monitor a child's safety very seriously. Parents, however, are also responsible for the safety and proper care of their children."

The little girl was taken to the hospital on Tuesday and, Detective Bishop says, Knapp and Pester stayed with her for around 12 hours.

They eventually left, Bishop said, to go pawn some items so they could buy themselves food at the hospital but they never returned.

Pester later called the hospital to say she wouldn't be back until Thursday.

When police went to their apartment, they found several empty pizza boxes and the couple was playing video games.

Knapp and Pester claimed the girl ate "like a horse," but Detective Bishop said the evidence tells a different story.

"They said that she could eat regular food but I just...as small as she is and as malnourished as she is, I don't believe that," Detective Bishop said.

Police said the girl weighed 13 pounds when DHS took custody of her in July 2012. They said she weighs about the same now, less than two months from her third birthday.

Knapp and Pester are being held on a $50,000 bond each, with a court appearance set for October 16.

As the parents were being arrested Tuesday, Knapp asked police if the girl had died.

Detectives say she is still alive but fighting a host of problems and it's difficult to say if she'll survive.

Special Features

Bridge Tracker

How safe are Oklahoma?s bridges? Use Bridge Tracker to find out now.

Crime Tracker

Find out what crimes are committed in your area with Crime Tracker.

Links

Looking for a website or event you heard mentioned on The News On 6? Find it here!

Murrah Bombing Timeline

Learn more about the events leading up to and following the bombing.

Turnpike Interactive

View a historical road map of Oklahoma's turnpike system.

Live Radar

WARN Interactive

Featured on NewsOn6.com

  • Cold Cases

    Join Lori and local homicide detectives as they search for Cold Case clues.

  • Crime Survival Guide

    What can you do to survive a crime? Find advice for personal safety here.

  • Crime Tracker

    Find out what crimes are committed in your area with Crime Tracker.

  • Links

    Looking for a website you heard mentioned on News On 6? Find it here!

Powered by WorldNow
News On 6
303 N. Boston Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74103
TULSA'S OWN TM
GREEN COUNTRY'S OWN TM
Oklahoma's Own Newson6.com is proud to provide Oklahomans with timely and relevant news and information, sharing the stories, pictures and loves of Oklahomans across our great state including Tulsa's Own and Green Country's Own.
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014, WorldNow and KOTV. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.