An 8-year-old boy who died in April while under the care of his grandmother had cerebral palsy and weighed only 25 pounds when he died.

According to warrants, officers responded to a home in the 1600 block of Berriedale Drive on April 15 after receiving a report of a boy who wasn’t breathing. The boy died in the home, and the Fayetteville Police Department’s Homicide Unit immediately began an investigation.

The boy was a twin, and he lived in the home with seven other siblings. The child’s twin is healthy and has no obvious mental conditions, court documents say. 

Fayetteville police say the boy’s mother lives in Florida, his father is deceased.

The child’s mother advised that he suffered from cerebral palsy and epilepsy and had a feeding tube put in placed in 2016 due to undernourishment. The boy weighed only 25 pounds at the time of his death. He died from acute bronchopneumonia, which was brought upon by starvation, according to the report.

Geneen Ballenger, who is 53 and the grandmother of the child, was charged with involuntary manslaughter and was arrested on Nov. 1. She was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond and appeared in court the same week, where she was given a court-appointed attorney.

There were a total of eight children and six adults living at the home.

According to officials, Ballenger had custody of the children since April 2017 and had not enrolled any of the children in school nor provided them with adequate medical care.

The children are now in foster care through the Cumberland County Department of Social Services.

Anyone with information about the case should call Detective S. Catlett at 910-818-2543 or Fayetteville/Cumberland County Crime Stoppers at 910-483-8477.


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