The following is a news release from the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office:
Lake Charles – In May, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office received a complaint from witnesses who had seen a young girl eating out of a trash can in the area of Georgia Road in Moss Bluff. Detectives spoke with several people in the area who confirmed seeing the young girl eating from the trash can on several occasions.
The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office reported the incident to the Department of Children & Family Services, and on May 25, the young girl and her sister were removed from their home.
The CPSO investigation continued, and once in the care of the Dept. of Children & Family Services, the young girls revealed they had been physically and emotionally abused by their mother, Verna A. Kennerson, 56, of Moss Bluff, including being struck with several items, including belts, extension cords, and sticks. Kennerson whipped the girls on their legs until they bled, and struck one of the girls in the face with a wooden object, chipping the girl's tooth. Kennerson, who is handicapped, suspended one of the girls off the ground using her handicap lift, threatening to hang her. The investigation also revealed the girls were forced to sleep outside in a portable building in the back yard of the residence that had no flooring and no electricity, and were not given food, so they were forced to find food from neighborhood trash cans.
During the investigation, it was also revealed the mother forced the two girls to wear a piece of paper stapled to the back of their clothing while attending school which read "We work as a team, we lie and steal." The girls were asked to remove the note by school officials but refused, because they were afraid of what would happen if Kennerson found out.
The girls were seen by a physician and their scars were documented.
The investigation also revealed Kennerson's mother, Mary J. Kennerson, 77, who lived with the family, had knowledge of the alleged abused and failed to report the incidents.
On July 6, the CPSO conducted a search of Kennerson's home and recovered multiple items that were reportedly used during the abuse.
Both Kennerson's were arrested and booked into the Calcasieu Correctional Center. Verna Kennerson was charged with 13 counts of cruelty to a juvenile. Mary Kennerson was charged with one count of cruelty to a juvenile.
Judge Wilford Carter set both bonds at $10,000 each.