STRUTHERS, Ohio (WKBN) – A kindergarten teacher was the first line of defense for a little girl who showed up to class with bruises so severe it prompted the teacher to contact police.
The 5-year-old Struthers Elementary student hadn’t been to class since Jan. 22 and even before that, she showed up at school with multiple bruises. The ones most easily seen were on her face and ear, but there were more, according to police.
“We just noticed the child wasn’t in school. There were some other things that were concerning,” said Struthers Elementary Principal Bethany Carlson.
When the concern was reported to Mahoning County Children Services, the agency began making calls and even went to the house on Fourth Street to check on the child. Every attempt ended with no one coming to the door or answering the phone.
“Myself and one officer went to the residence to see if we could reach anybody at the house. We did not get a response,” said Struthers Diversion Officer Yvonne Wilson.
Wilson was relentless, however. When neighbors told Wilson they had not seen the girl in some time, she took her concerns to police.
Struthers Police obtained a search warrant and went to the house Monday where they, too, were met with silence at the door. After announcing their presence, police broke into the house and found the child’s mother, 27-year-old Lisa Marenkovic, hiding in a first floor room of the house.
A few minutes later, the 5-year-old child came walking down the steps, looking disheveled, bruised and malnourished, according to police.
But it wasn’t just Marenkovic police were looking for. They knew Beau Geidner, 27, also lived in the house and they asked Marenkovic where he was, but she said he wasn’t there, according to a police report. It was the 5-year-old who told officers the man was upstairs. Police found Geidner hiding in a crawl space, covered by insulation.
Both Geidner and Marenkovic were arrested and charged with child endangering. Marenkovic is also facing an additional charge of drug possession.
The 5-year-old girl was taken to Akron Children’s Hospital in Boardman, where she was admitted and is being evaluated.
Police shared some of the photos they took inside the house, which was in deplorable condition with garbage and debris strewn about. A lone blow up mattress was found in a room where children’s toys were crammed into a wooden shelf. The kitchen, living room and bathroom looked ransacked with garbage, dirty dishes and debris on the floor, chairs and shelves. Police say there was little food in the home.
Detectives credited school employees with doing the right thing to notify them.
“Without them and Yvonne Wilson’s diligence, we would not probably know of the situation,” said Struthers Police Lt. Jeff Lewis.
Both Marenkovic and Geidner are due in court on Tuesday.