Three women in New Jersey were arrested this week after police say that a 13-year-old girl under their care showed up on a neighbor’s doorstep wearing an electric shock collar for dogs that the trio used to punish her.
Rachel Mennig, 20, Rebecca Mennig, 22, and Kelly Mennig, 42, were taken into custody and charged with one count each of aggravated assault, child abuse, and neglect of a child, court documents reviewed by Law&Crime show.
According to a probable cause affidavit submitted by the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, officers with the Stratford Police Department on Tuesday, March 1 responded to a 911 call about possible child abuse. A neighbor, later identified as Karen Vilec of Stratord Township, told police that the little girl came to her door wearing the shock collar and begging for help.
Upon arriving at the scene, first responders said they observed that the child, identified in court documents by the initials I.D., had “markings on her neck consistent with wearing the collar,” according to the affidavit. The child was transported to Jefferson Hospital in Stratford for medical treatment.
In an interview with investigators, the girl reportedly said that her relative, Rachel Mennig, would put the collar around her neck and shock her multiple times as a form of punishment, the affidavit states. The child allegedly said that Rachel had done this to her multiple times in the past.
The child was removed from the home by the New Jersey Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) and brought to the Camden County Child Advocacy Center. During a followup forensic interview, the 13-year-old child told investigators that Rachel first began using the shock collar on her when she was only 9 and in the fourth grade.
“I.D. detailed accounts where Kelly and Rebecca have also used the dog shock collar as forms of punishment. I.D. additionally detailed times that she was deprived of the appropriate amounts of food and clothing amenities,” the affidavit states.
All three women, whose relationships to the girl were redacted from the affidavit, denied having any knowledge about the shock collar. Police said, however, that they investigated an unidentified witness who also resides in the house where the abuse is alleged to have occurred.
“According to this witness, he/she explained that he/she has observed the dog shock collar used on I.D. numerous times in the past as a form of punishment when she acts ‘bad,'” the affidavit says. “It was explained that he/she has witness I.D. deprived of food and amenities.”
The affidavit further alleges the little girl was forced to assist the adults with shoplifting. That’s in addition to wearing the shock collar and being deprived of food.
In an interview with Philadelphia NBC affiliate WCAU, Vilec recounted what happened when the child came to her door.
“My doorbell’s ringing frantically and I open the door and [she] says, ‘Help me! Help me! Help me! They’re shocking me!’ And because I’m confused, I’m seeing the dog collar, she’s putting it in my hand,” Vilec told the station. “And I said, ‘Is your dog lost?’ And she goes, ‘No! No! They’re shocking me!’ Shows the marks on her neck.”
Vilec claimed that when she took the dog collar from the girl it buzzed in her hand.
“I couldn’t fathom,” Vilec said. “You know, who puts a dog collar, first of all, who puts it on their dog? Let alone on a child?”
Read the affidavit below.
[Images via WCAU screengrab]
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