Seven-year-old Danielle Crockett, also referred to as “The Girl in the Window,” lived in the same home as her family and no one else. She was unknown to anyone outside the house until authorities discovered her living situation. They discovered Danielle living in appalling conditions, with cockroaches crawling across the floor and soiled diapers dotting her surroundings. It was extremely upsetting.
Danielle Crockett’s story has shaken society’s faith in the mother-daughter relationship, exposing the child’s harrowing neglect over a staggering seven years. What’s more upsetting is the mother’s lack of remorse, responsibility, or explanation.
Who is Danielle Crockett?
It wasn’t until July 2005, seven years after her birth, that a neighbor noticed a girl peering out of a broken window of a run-down house, drawing the attention of authorities and the general public to Danielle’s predicament. Danielle Crockett’s case serves as a reminder of the importance of being vigilant and concerned about the well-being of children in our communities.
The neighbors had no idea Danielle was living there; they only knew there was a woman, her boyfriend, and two older sons. They were shocked to see the young girl looking out the window and immediately called the police to investigate.
It is also worth noting that the authorities failed Danielle in this case, as two previous reports of child neglect had gone unaddressed. It was only on the third call to the police that investigators were dispatched to Danielle’s house and discovered the extent of her neglect.
Danielle was found naked in a horrific situation
When the senior officer and his partner arrived on the scene, they were met with a terrifying sight. A car was parked outside the house, and a woman, who turned out to be a Florida Department of Children and Families investigator, was sobbing uncontrollably. She called what she saw on the inside “unbelievable, the worst I’ve ever seen.”
The officer entered the living room and saw two older boys sitting on a faded sofa, as well as a woman who had come outside to inquire about the commotion. The woman appeared unfazed by her squalid living conditions, displaying no sense of urgency or concern.
He noticed two older boys sitting on the old faded sofa in the living room at that point, as well as a woman who had just wandered outside to inquire about the situation. The woman acted as if nothing was wrong with her living situation.
Undaunted, the officer pushed past her and into a small, dark room where he discovered a small girl lying on a filthy, threadbare mattress. The room was strewn with soiled diapers and stank of urine and feces. The officer attempted to pick up the girl, who was covered in insect bites, rashes, and sores, and she yelped and struggled to get away.
He quickly lifted the girl over his shoulder and made a move to leave the house. However, the mother blocked his way and attempted to prevent him from taking the child. The officer refrained from arresting the woman, as per instructions to allow the child facilities to conduct their own investigation. Instead, he prioritized getting the girl out of the house and transported her to a hospital for immediate care.
Danielle’s mother blamed everything on financial constraints
Officer Mark Holste asked Danielle’s mother about her children’s living conditions, and she replied that she was doing her best. When the officer entered the house, he was astounded to see hundreds of cockroaches. Crockett, Danielle’s mother, expressed confusion and claimed ignorance of the law regarding keeping a clean home when questioned further.
Crockett revealed that she had been struggling financially since losing her job in Las Vegas and losing her husband in 1997, leaving her to raise their two sons alone. After a one-night stand, she became pregnant with Danielle. Crockett relocated her family to Plant City, Florida, in an attempt to provide a better life for her children after losing their mobile home and belongings.
The Road to Recovery
Danielle was immediately taken to Tampa General for medical and psychological treatment after leaving the home where she had spent her first seven years. A team of experts worked for six weeks to ensure she was healthy enough to recover from the severe effects of neglect on her mind.
Danielle was placed in foster care after being discharged from the hospital by Judge Martha Cook, who assigned her to a group home in Land O’Lakes where she could receive constant care. Danielle worked closely with therapists and speech specialists during her stay, all under the supervision of her caseworker. Their primary goal was to help Danielle gain the skills and abilities necessary to perform the basic tasks of daily life independently, while also ensuring a secure and fulfilling future for her.
Danielle’s transformation to Dani and her adoption
Danielle’s caseworker began looking for a permanent home and family for her about 18 months after her rescue. Danielle’s picture was taken and displayed in the Heart Gallery, which also featured portraits of 600 other children looking for their families.
When Bernie and Diane Lierow saw Danielle’s picture in the gallery, they decided to meet her at her school. Following that meeting, the Lierows, who already had five boys, decided to adopt Danielle. They brought her home and named her Dani.
Bernie and Diane made certain that Dani received a variety of therapeutic activities to assist her in adjusting to her new life. Horseback riding therapy, occupational therapy, and swimming lessons were among them. Dani had five days a week of public school, special education classes, and private speech therapy.
Bernie eventually moved the Lierows to a farm in Tennessee, where he rehabilitated horses and raised goats. Unfortunately, their 18-year marriage ended in 2015. Despite their divorce, Bernie continued to care for Dani until she reached the age of 18, at which point she became eligible for Social Security and Medicaid. Dani then moved into a small group home 40 minutes from Nashville.
Where is Danielle Crockett now?
Danielle was living in a group home in 2017 and had made remarkable progress that exceeded all expectations. Despite her difficulties, she had learned to tolerate physical touch, make eye contact, and chew and swim. Danielle had also grown to be four inches taller than her father, Bernie Lierow, over time.
Danielle can hear and respond appropriately despite her inability to speak. What’s more, Danielle has developed the ability to express her emotions, which is a critical milestone in her ongoing development. She’s been there since the start of her adoption process. She still does not speak, but she does listen when others speak. Bernie Lierow, her adoptive father, pays her visits every few weeks.
Danielle’s mother avoided Jail time
It is worth noting that Michelle Crockett was never convicted of child abu*se or endangerment. Instead, after Florida judges deemed her an unfit parent, she agreed to permanently relinquish her parental rights over Danielle. The courts initially sentenced her to community service, two years of house arrest, and probation, which she completed in 2012.
Because of Crockett’s plea agreement, local authorities were able to avoid lengthy legal proceedings and place Dani in a care facility right away. Danielle was able to receive prompt treatment as a result, and the Lierows were able to adopt her.