• Grandmother accused of abusing girl, forcing her to hold Bible over head

    By: Kevin McCarty


    OLYMPIA, Wash. - An Olympia grandmother is accused of abusing her 9-year-old granddaughter because she claimed the little girl had a demon inside of her.

    Cynthia Miller appeared confused as she appeared on video before a Thurston County judge during a probable cause hearing Monday. At one point Miller tried to tell the judge the accusations against her were not true.

    According to a probable cause affidavit Miller is accused of abusing the girl over a long period of time, causing bruising, burns and broken bones. The affidavit states Miller would force the girl to stand in a corner of the family's apartment holding a Bible over her head while other family members, including other children, would shout Jehovah at her in an effort to get rid of the demon.

    Neighbors said the girl appeared to be a target of anger by her grandmother who told them she would steal from others in the family.

    "They would say that she was a demon child and that she was retarded all the time and that she was evil," said neighbor Amanda Gerber.

    "I think it's awful," said Gerber's friend Serena Kohlstead, "I can't believe that none of the neighbors ever said anything, nobody ever heard anything."

    Thurston county sheriff's detectives began an investigation into the alleged abuse on Halloween after teachers at the girl's elementary school spotted bruises on her. The probable cause affidavit states the girl has bruises on several areas of her body in various stages of healing as well as old marks on her body that appeared to be burns and several old fractures to her arms, legs, fingers and toes.

    The affidavit states the child was taken away from her mother by Child Protective Services in California and sent to live with her grandparents in Olympia when she was 2 years old because she was being abused. Miller is the mother of the little girl's father, who is dead.

    Neighbors said the girl was often the target of criticism by Miller and her husband as well as two other children living in the family's apartment.

    "Like, oh she's not right, the kid's crazy, the kid's this, the kid's that," said next door neighbor Brandon Terrien. "Unfortunately I think she was kind of being singled out the whole time."

    Miller was ordered held on $40,000 bail following a probable cause hearing Monday in Thurston County Superior Court.

    The 9-year-old and two other children living at Miller's apartment were removed from the home by Washington State Child Protective Services.


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