On the outside, Stephanie Duncan looked like a wonderful mother. The forty-three-year-old had adopted five children and brought them into her home in Annville Township, Pennsylvania. However, things were not as they seemed in the Duncan household. Now, the “dedicated” mother faces 288 years in prison for the horrendous abuses she committed against her five adopted children, including strangulation, frequent beatings, and food deprivation.
Duncan’s husband Robert has already pleaded guilty to having failed to intervene in the child abuse. Although his crimes were not as severe, he was convicted and sentenced to between six and thirty years behind bars. And everyone knows that Pennsylvania prisons are nothing to scoff at.
Duncan abused her children with such hatred that it could have been a horror movie. She would lock the children into the frigid basement and force them to sleep down there without providing them beds or bedding. She also stands accused of beating and strangling them as well as depriving them of their most basic need – food and water.
Both parents punched and strangled their four boys. They treated their girl differently. She was their youngest at just six years old, so they would simply smack her in the mouth when they felt it necessary. The beatings were senseless and frequent. The Duncans expected their children to follow very strict rules and would get beaten for failing to complete chores by the deadline or for “stealing” water from the sink when they were practically dying of thirst.
Now, the eldest boy was perhaps mistreated the most. In addition to the beatings, he was forced to sleep in the cold basement with only a small space heater and an old mattress.
The Pennsylvania couple’s crimes were exposed when their eleven-year-old son had to be rushed to the hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia. Court documents indicate the boy’s “blood pressure presented as abnormally low. Test results showed his blood had low potassium levels, an electrolyte disturbance, and an excessive amount of sodium. An examination of L.D.’s body revealed bruises on his neck, shoulders, back, abdomen, hip, and genitals. The medical staff determined the location of the child’s bruises were not consistent with accidental injury.”
The statement continued, “Through their course of care, medical professionals determined L.D. did not have a pre-existing medical condition to which they could attribute his injuries. The child’s significant hypothermia could only be caused by prolonged exposure to extreme cold.”
Lebanon County Judge Bradford H. Charles appeared via a video on Wednesday and heard as Stephanie Duncan entered her guilty plea. Her sentencing is scheduled for December 22, 2021. Robert was sentenced on December 13 after apologizing to the court for abusing his children so severely and enabling their mother to do the same.
“The children will never recover psychologically,” Judge Charles said, according to the Lebanon Daily News. “There are times when an apology is trite, and this is one of those times. It takes a sociopathic sadist to torture children. It takes someone who has no regard for humanity to sit back and let it happen.”