An Idaho court on Wednesday found a couple guilty of starving their five-year-old adopted daughter.
Gwendalyn and Byron Buthman were convicted of injury to a child and an enhancement of infliction of great bodily injury, both felonies, according to the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office. The couple abused their adopted five-year-old daughter, identified as E.B. by court records, between October 2015 and March 2018. As a result of the abuse, the child experienced a heart attack.
The couple’s adopted child, E.B., was fed only vegetable protein powder, slept in their laundry room on a thin mat without blankets, and was isolated from the rest of the family. The girl was required to drink five to six 16.9-ounce bottles of water daily and instructed to urinate in a bucket outside. As a daily chore, the child was forced to pick up dog poop.
“She was skinny, her skin was dry. She appeared malnourished – just not a healthy kid,” testified Dawn Cliff, a habilitative interventionist who worked with the girl for several months between 2017 and 2018.
The little girl suffered a heart attack in October 2017 when she was forced to go outside after she soiled her diaper. Cliff spotted her in the grass and she was taken to the hospital.
“I remember Gwen and Byron rushing to the hospital,” E.B. said. “I remember me in front of the swing set not doing anything, just staring not moving.”
The abuse continued after she returned from the hospital except the couple did give her PediSure in addition to the starvation diet they had been feeding her.
When the Buthmans were arrested in 2019 Deputy Prosecutor John Dinger, described the case in a hearing as “basically torture and neglect.”
“This young child was adopted when she was 3 and started at that time to be, what we would call, just simply tortured and starved,” he said.
The couple had four other adopted children.