LEBANON COUNTY, Pa. — The trial for a Lebanon County woman accused of starving and torturing 12-year-old Max Schollenberger until his death in May 2020 is slated to begin this morning.
Kimberly Maurer, 36, is facing homicide and child endangerment charges in the trial that begins today.
Scott Schollenberger Jr., 43, her alleged co-conspirator in the crime, plead guilty last month to charges of homicide, endangering the welfare of a child, and conspiring to both crimes.
His guilty plea on the homicide charge resulted in the life sentence, while the other convictions resulted in sentences totaling a minimum of 25 years.
The couple is accused of leaving Max Schollenberger to die in a second-floor bedroom in their Annville home.
The boy's body was discovered on May 26, 2020 by police responding to the report of a deceased person.
According to court documents, when police arrived, they immediately requested assistance from the Lebanon County Detective Bureau due to the horrific conditions they discovered inside the residence.
Authorities say they discovered the child's body in a second floor bedroom naked, sprawled across the bed.
Police said that the victim's body appeared malnourished.
Court documents state that the bed, child's clothing and child's body were covered in fecal matter, and the odor emanating from the bedroom was described as 'overpowering.'
Police said that the victim's room contained no forms of electrical or artificial lighting, and that windows had shades duct taped to the window frames themselves.
Authorities said that permanently affixed screws held windows closed, and the room was barren outside of the bed the child's body was found on.
According to the court documents, the only liquid found inside the child's room was a plastic cup near the bed frame that contained "a single inch of water."
Police said during an examination of the outside of the child's door, it was found that three metal hooks were installed to be able to lock the victim in the room.
After an investigation into the death, police found that the victim had been kept in his bedroom and hidden from the public and from some immediate family members for several years.
Schollenberger Jr., the victim's biological father, and Maurer, the victim's step-mother, had never taken the child to a doctor's office appoint for over a decade, and had never enrolled the child in any schooling, court documents state.
Both Schollenberger Jr. and Maurer denied that the victim had suffered from any form of physical or mental disorder.
Police say that other children lived in the residence from another relationship of Maurer's.
Those children appeared to be healthy and well cared for and told police that they rarely ever saw the victim prior to his death. Some said they weren't even aware of his existence, according to court documents.
A forensic autopsy was performed on the victim's body by Doctor Michael W. Johnson, MD, PhD, on June 1 at Lehigh Valley Hospital.
The autopsy revealed that the victim had numerous signs of starvation and malnutrition, including his Body Mass Index being less than the 1st percentile for his age group.
Johnson specifically noted the child weighed only 47.5 pounds at his death, and was a height of only 50 inches. He was nowhere near the size, weight, or stature appropriate for a child of his age. All four of the child’s limbs showed a severe lack of muscle mass; his bones themselves showed a weakened state.
Johnson rendered the following opinion regarding the victim's cause and manner of death:
"In my medical opinion, this 12-year-old child died as the result of blunt force head trauma complicating starvation/malnutrition. In the context of the Lebanon County investigation, it is my medical opinion that this child's death was a homicide."
Lebanon County District Attorney Piers Hess Graf said, “Max Schollenberger existed. I will not call this living. and I never will. He existed in a state of perpetual suffering. He existed in the most deplorable, the foulest, the most heinous of human conditions... He remained starved, isolated, and locked away, until the moment of his death."
Opening statements and testimonies are set to begin in Maurer's trial today.