Pulaski County neglect case delayed

WINAMAC, Ind. - Pulaski County deputies are searching for a woman charged with neglect of a dependent after she didn't show up to her court hearing Thursday. Patricia Meeks was arrested in December 2016 after authorities found her three-year-old stepsister locked in a box.

“Not generally heard of in Pulaski county. People don’t generally lock children in boxes," said Pulaski County Sheriff's Deputy Michelle Jackson.

The prosecutor says parents locked a three-year-old girl in a filthy, urine-soaked, bug-filled box.

The toddler's father, Christopher Short, his wife, Donna Short, and her daughter, Patricia Meeks, were charged with Neglect of a Dependent in December 2016, while six others were charged with Failure to Report.

More than a year later, there's still no resolution.

“It’s frustrating. We go through this and we do all this paperwork, and we show up here for court and ready to testify and the cases are continued or the people don’t show up," said Deputy Jackson.

Meeks didn't show up to accept her plea deal Thursday afternoon. 

The prosecutor filed an amended charge that morning that decreased the charge from a Felony 5 Neglect of a Dependent to a Felony 6 charge, which reduces the maximum sentence from six years to two-and-a-half.

“Here we have a three-year-old in a box who I have no idea how many years she spent being confined to that box. We don’t know. She couldn’t tell us, so I think that two and a half years seems to be pretty light for something like that," said the deputy.

Even when the case is finally over, Deputy Jackson says it will stick with her forever.

“I will never forget opening that box and seeing her inside there--We walked away feeling like, we did something good here, and we saved that little girl’s life," she said.

The judge still has not determined when Patricia Meeks' hearing will be rescheduled.

Christopher Short will be in court for his entry of plea hearing in March.

Donna Short died in a car crash in July 2017.

The others charged with Failure to Report will face a joint jury trial in May.

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