The Lebanon grandmother who pleaded guilty to extensively burning her young granddaughter for peeing on the couch was sentenced in Boone Circuit Court to serve 16 years. Gretta Feil or Wilburn, 50, will spend 12 years in prison and four years on probation on two felony counts of aggravated battery.
Feil, who lived in Kise Estates Apartments, was arrested in April after the Indiana Division of Child Services discovered the girl had third degree burns on her face, scalp and genitals. Feil was taking care of the girl and her brother after picking them up in Alabama at the home of her son, Robert Conway, and his wife, Frances Shashona Conway, on April 2.
The girl is reported to have told her mother she got the burns in the shower. Other family members told police Feil hit the girl with a wooden backscratcher and would take her into the bathroom where the girl could be heard screaming. The probable cause affidavit reported the girl suffered bruising on her belly, thighs, shins, arms and buttocks. She also had bleeding under her skin as a result of blunt force trauma, and had elevated enzymes indicating bruised organs. According to investigators, the temperature of Feil’s shower reached 137 degrees.
“This child suffered horrific abuse,” Boone County Special Victim’s Prosecutor Heidi Jennings said in a press release. “Her physical scars are healing, and we hope that this sentence today helps the healing process for her emotional scars.”
The Riley Child Protection Team who examined the child told investigators the abuse would likely have escalated and could eventually result in the child’s death. The boy was not reported injured, but the girl had trouble walking when police interviewed her.
Feil pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated battery, a Level 3 felony, in September and was sentenced Tuesday. Prosecutors point out that 16 years is the maximum sentence for a Level 3 felony.
Authorities received several calls from neighbors reporting screaming and cussing coming from the apartment.
“Every person in this community can help us protect our children,” Jennings said. “We are thankful to every person who intervened and saved this child’s life, especially the neighbors who did not ignore the child’s cries of distress.”
Authorities remind everyone to practice “see something, say something.”