MAYES COUNTY, Oklahoma - A Mayes County couple is charged with child abuse after investigators say they starved, handcuffed, and beat a 9-year-old girl in their care.

The little girl told deputies the couple would say they wished she would go die in a hole.

A neighbor said the victim was forced to carry wood outside in all kinds of weather. He said the little girl was so small, neighbors thought she was much younger.

Mayes County deputies were called to the home earlier this month to look for a missing child, but Major Rod Howell says there was more to the story.

"During the course of the investigation, they discovered that there was a little bit more to it than basically a runaway," said Howell.

Joel Smith, Amanda Smith, and their daughter Allison were arrested in Missouri and charged with child neglect and child abuse. An affidavit says when deputies found the 9-year-old victim she told them she didn't want to go home because the people there were mean to her.

Major Howell says that's when the story started to unfold.

"With this many allegations, I mean, it strikes a chord. It really does," said Howell.

The affidavit says the girl told deputies she was only fed once a day. She said she wasn't allowed to use the bathroom and was forced to wear a diaper.

The victim said she would dig in the trash for food and eat dog food, so the smith's handcuffed her leg inside a "Pack n Play" so she couldn't go anywhere at night.

"Someone's gotta be a voice for these children, someone's gotta advocate for those children," said Howell.

Howell says they work with DHS to keep families together if possible, but in this situation, they felt the girl needed to be removed from the home.

The little girl told deputies she was beaten with a belt and hard plastic stick. The little girl was taken to the hospital because she has several injuries.

Doctors say while her body is healing, she will need trauma therapy.