A Des Monies, Iowa, teen was found dead from a heart attack brought on by starvation, lying on a linoleum floor in a bedroom and wearing an adult diaper.
Natalie Finn “appeared to have been laying on the floor…in her own waste for some time” when police found her, Detective Chris Morgan stated in an affidavit. The 16-year-old reportedly smelled of human and animal waste and was surrounded by urine-soaked blankets in the empty bedroom where she was found.
“Many animals roamed freely, including well over a dozen kittens and cats,” Morgan said, the Des Moines Register reported. “There were numerous kennels with dogs scattered inside the residence.”
The details of Natalie’s death were recently made public after a judge’s order to keep the search warrant under seal expired. The girl’s mother, 42-year-old Nicole Finn, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for the death of her daughter.
She was also charged for the treatment of Natalie’s 15-year-old brother and 14-year-old sister, both of whom survived but were found to be underweight and covered in bedsores. Another sibling also survived, and all three were adopted.
Finn’s ex-husband, Joseph Finn, was also arrested on kidnapping, neglect and child endangerment charges.
“What happened to not only Natalie but her siblings was preventable,” Senator Matt McCoy told the Register after receiving a confidential briefing on the girl’s case.
Child protective workers previously visited the family’s home and determined that although Natalie was underweight, she seemed to have made the choice herself not to eat.
Upon discovery of the dying teen, however, police found that Finn kept her children inside her home against their will, tortured and starved them – even boarding up the windows of the home to stop them from escaping.
Many readers expressed their desire to see the parents punished to the fullest extent of the law.
“These two no count pieces of trash need to be boarded up in prison for the rest of there lives !!!! Their miserable lives !!! How could anybody be so out right mean to kids and the they were probably treated bad when they were kids is crap !!! I grew up in a not so nice place myself and vowed to myself to never be that way !!! Thank God I wasn’t !!!” one reader on Facebook commented.
“Punishment should be an eye for an eye for abuse and murder of children and animals! Neither are capable of defending themselves and are at the mercy of their abusers! That poor innocent girl must have suffered terribly!” another added.
Even more horrific details on this tragedy:
Natalie Finn’s parents took out two life insurance policies on their adopted daughter before the 16-year-old died from starvation and abuse in the family’s West Des Moines home, Polk County court filings show.
A Hartford Life Insurance policy carried a $10,000 benefit, according to a court filing related to Natalie Finn’s estate. Another policy that Natalie’s adoptive mother, Nicole Finn, took out in 2009 carried a $25,000 benefit.
A court petition filed this month shows that Natalie’s adoptive father, Joseph M. Finn II, called about the second policy from Quad Cities-based Modern Woodmen of America the day after Natalie died in October 2016. Nicole Finn was subsequently sent information on filing a claim.
Both Joseph and Nicole Finn have been charged in Natalie’s death.
Natalie’s oldest adoptive brother, Alexander Finn, also called about the policy. He has not been charged.
Whether anyone receives anything hinges on Nicole Finn’s upcoming trial, according to Ned Miller, who was appointed to represent Natalie’s estate.
Nicole Finn, 42, faces a Nov. 27 trial in Polk County on multiple felony charges, including first-degree murder, for allegedly abusing Natalie and two teenage siblings who also were adopted.
Nicole Finn has pleaded not guilty, and her lawyers have said she will use a defense of diminished mental capacity.
Joseph Finn’s trial was continued until Jan. 8. The 46-year-old has pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, neglect, abandonment and child endangerment.
His attorney, Jim Cook, said Finn doesn’t anticipate using any “special” defenses, instead contending that the father didn’t live in Nicole Finn’s home after the two divorced in 2011 and “wasn’t around the kids that often.”
Numerous people, including school officials and neighbors, reported they believed Natalie was being abused before she was pulled out of public school last year and died in her own waste in the West Des Moines home.
She was wearing an adult diaper and lying on the linoleum floor of her bare bedroom when police and medics discovered her, according to court documents.
A medical examination found the teen died of emaciation because of the denial of critical care.
Natalie’s death and those of other children adopted out of state foster care have prompted probes by Iowa legislators, the state ombudsman, Iowa’s Child Death Review Team, Iowa’s Department of Human Services and a private consultant hired by the state to review the state’s child-welfare policies.
Joseph Finn has agreed to relinquish any right to the $10,000 he stood to receive from the Hartford Life policy he took out in the event of Natalie’s death.
A court petition filed this month by Modern Woodmen asks that a judge ultimately decide who should receive the $25,000 benefit since Natalie’s death was a homicide and her parents may both be disqualified as beneficiaries.
The non-profit fraternal organization asked to turn over the $25,000 to the court so it can be relieved from any liability in any potential court action “because of a controversy not of its making.”
Modern Woodmen and its attorney, Debra Hulett, declined to comment Monday on the civil court action.
The petition shows that the policy Nicole Finn took out in 2009 on Natalie’s behalf named Nicole herself as the principal beneficiary and her oldest son, Alexander K. Finn, an adult, as a contingent beneficiary.
Read more: USATODAY