• The father pleaded guilty to charges that included criminal homicide and child endangerment
  • The father and his partner were accused of imprisoning his son in a darkened room for years, starving him and beating him
  • The couple has other children together "who appeared to be healthy, well-adjusted and cared for," authorities say

A 43-year-old man in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to life in prison without parole after admitting to torturing and starving his 12-year-old son before the boy died.

Scott Schollenberger Jr., of Annville, Pennsylvania, was set to stand trial on charges related to his son's 2020 death but pleaded guilty Thursday to charges that included criminal homicide, child endangerment and conspiracy for both counts, Associated Press reported. His trial had been scheduled to start on March 14.

In September 2020, Schollenberger and his fiancée Kimberly Maurer, 36, were arrested after the body of his son Maxwell was discovered around four months prior, reported.

The couple was accused of imprisoning Maxwell in a darkened room for years in the family's Annville home, starving him and beating him while treating their other children well.

Maurer remains jailed and is due to stand trial next month.

When Maxwell was found on May 26, 2020, the boy was naked, and his feces-covered body was sprawled across a soiled bed in a room that was also caked with it, according to authorities. Maxwell weighed just 47.5 pounds at the time, half the weight of a normal 12-year-old, and was 8 inches shorter than the norm, detectives said.

The boy never received medical care and wasn’t enrolled in school.

Schollenberger and Maurer have other children together "who appeared to be healthy, well-adjusted and cared for," received regular medical care and attended school, according to authorities.

Maxwell's siblings rarely saw him despite living in the same house with the couple, authorities said.

Detectives said Maxwell also suffered head trauma. The boy's death was attributed to "blunt force head trauma complicating starvation/malnutrition."

The boy's biological mother, Sara Coon, filed a lawsuit against the couple and Children and Youth Services for what she considers failures by the agency in investigating repeated complaints of child abuse.

The boy's paternal grandmother found evidence that Maurer, who was the boy's caregiver, was beating Maxwell during toilet training in 2010, Coon claimed. The following year, during a visit to the couple's home, the grandmother saw Maxwell standing facing a corner without any pants, and his bare legs and buttocks were covered with bruises and scrapes, PennLive reported.

Coon claimed in her lawsuit that the couple moved without telling the boy's grandparents after they confronted Schollenberger and Maurer regarding Maxwell's injuries.

The grandmother called children's services three times in 2015 to make a report of suspected child abuse, but they were told each time by workers they could not give her any information about whether any investigation was being conducted, the lawsuit claimed.

Representation. A gavel. Pixabay