Woman Sentenced for Child Cruelty in Thomas County

By: Caroline Gonzmart Email
By: Caroline Gonzmart Email

In 2008, nursing student Leslie Wilfred lived on quiet Academy Drive in Thomas County -- but things weren't all they seemed.

Wilfred first drew the attention of the Thomas County coroner when she held a funeral for twins she claimed she'd given birth to -- but no record of the babies could ever be found.

Investigators wanted to know more, so they got a search warrant.

Says Lt. Tim Watkins, "Upon the search warrant, we found the box in the closet in her bedroom bathroom, where she would confine her stepson."

Investigators say imprisonment in a two-foot by two-foot wooden box was one of a variety of ways Wilfred physically and psychologically abused her four children and stepson, who ranged from ages eight to twelve.

Explains Watkins, "She had her own kids convinced that they had liver problems, she had her daughter convinced that she was dying from cancer."

On April 8, 2011, Wilfred was found guilty of five counts of child cruelty in a Thomas County courtroom.

She was sentenced to five and a half years behind bars, followed by thirty years on probation.

Years later, the case still has neighbors upset.

James Houston lives down the street from Wilfred's old residence and says, "I kind of got a little angry because, you know what people have to realize is that we've all been children ourselves, you know? Without the proper protection from parents, children, they actually couldn't survive."

TCSO says the sentence will give the victims enough time to 'grow up and defend themselves' by the time Wilfred is released.

Investigators say Wilfred has been behind bars at the Thomas County jail since her arrest in 2008.

They say she will soon be transferred into the Georgia State prison system.

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