LEBANON COUNTY, Pa. — People are rallying to pass a law in the name of a 12-year-old boy whose body was found after police said he was starved, neglected, and abused.
Following the death of Maxwell Schollenberger, the Lebanon County Detective Bureau charged Scott Schollenberger and Kimberly Maurer with Criminal Homicide, Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Homicide, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and Conspiracy to Commit Endangering the Welfare of a Child. On Thursday, Scott Schollenberger waived his preliminary hearing in the case.
Police said it is alleged the couple starved, abused, and ultimately killed the twelve-year-old, Maxwell, who was found dead in his bedroom . The couple was taken into custody September 11. Investigators said Scott Schollenberger is Max Schollenberger's biological father and Kimberly Maurer was engaged to Scott. They said Kimberly Maurer acted as the victim's mother for the past decade.
"We're trying to come up with Maxwell's law. We're trying to come up with stipulations. We want requests from the community as to what they think should be applied," said Nichole Harner, who was helping to lead the rally.
Police said on May 26, 2020, Annville Township Police Department (ATPD) officers responded to 30 South White Oak Street, Annville Township, Lebanon County for the report of a 12-year-old who had died in his bedroom. Police officers who responded to the scene immediately requested assistance with the investigation from the Lebanon County Detective Bureau due to what investigators called 'the horrific conditions' they discovered inside the home.
"How many more houses am I driving by that there's another Max inside that house?" said Harner, who is now asking members of the community to paint rocks in honor of Max to leave around the community to keep his name alive.
Police said the 12-year-old was found dead, naked inside his bedroom. They said the bedroom was covered in feces as there was no bathroom. Police said the boy was also not able to escape his room as the door had self-installed eyelet hooks on the door frame and the windows were completely restricted by shutters that no one could see in or out of.
Investigators said the boy appeared severely underweight and an autopsy found atrophied limbs and weakened bones consistent with starvation. Investigators said the autopsy also found hemorrhaging and internal bleeding with the final cause of death ruled as a result of blunt force trauma complicated by starvation and malnutrition.
"I can't picture having my own child locked away in their room and just not feeding them, not getting them sunlight, and not letting them play like a child should. And, it just breaks my heart because I could never imagine going through that thing personally and having nobody," said Harner.
Investigators said the couple has biological children together and the same children lived in the home with the victim. However, investigators said the other children were healthy and cared for.
When interviewed, investigators said the other children described the stench coming from Max Schollenberger's bedroom and how the couple refused to let the child out of his bedroom. Investigators said one child specifically remembered the couple would enter the victims room and Max Schollenberger would scream and cry. They said the child also remembered the couple discussing bruises on the victim's body.
“Today marks the first step in the long path of justice for this little boy. Max Schollenberger existed – I will not call this living – in a state of perpetual suffering; he existed in the most egregious and foul of conditions. He remained starved, locked away, and isolated until his killing. This child never looked forward to his first day of school, blew out candles on a birthday cake, or experienced the unconditional love of family. Max Schollenberger died in soiled sheets, covered in his own feces,” said District Attorney Hess Graf. “Murders such as these are haunting, both for the community and for the law enforcement involved. I want to commend our Detective Bureau and the Annville Township Police for their thorough and detailed investigation. Our Office will always fight for vulnerable, defenseless victims. The utter despair that was Max Schollenberger’s life begs for justice for his death.”
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Investigators said the couple admitted that they installed the hooks outside the child's bedroom door for the purpose of locking him inside.