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    Mother confesses she forced 5-year-old daughter to live in feces covered closet with little food prior to girl’s death

    By Jesse Wells,


    Update (04/14/2024): In an update released Sunday afternoon, IMPD announced that a third person had been arrested in connection to the death of Kinsleigh Welty. On Friday, 53-year-old Tammy Halsey was taken into custody for neglect of a dependent.

    IMPD reported that Halsey was Welty’s grandmother.

    INDIANAPOLIS — Court records are providing gruesome new details into the “horrific” death of a 5-year-old girl on Indy’s southwest side.

    The girl’s mother, Toni McClure, has been arrested for murder. Her boyfriend, Ryan Smith, has been arrested for neglect resulting in death, a charge McClure also faces.

    The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was called just before 5:15 p.m. Tuesday to the 6500 block of Denver Drive, a mobile home park on the city’s southwest side, on a report of an unresponsive child.

    Upon arrival, officers reportedly found an unresponsive 5-year-old girl inside the house.
    Kinsleigh Welty (photo provided)

    That little girl, identified by the Marion County Coroner’s Officer as Kinsleigh Welty, died a short time later after being taken to Riley Hospital from severe malnutrition.

    “It’s horrific,” said the victim’s grandfather Brian Welty. “It’s going to obviously be a memory I’ll have my entire life, that my granddaughter basically starved to death and it could have been avoided.”

    Welty said he cared for Kinsleigh on two different occasions before she was returned to her mother’s custody. He was devastated to hear about the poor conditions his granddaughter was forced to endure.

    According to court records, the victim’s mother initially tried to blame the girl’s father for the abuse inside the home, but when that story quickly fell apart the suspect allegedly confessed she knew she was treating her daughter wrong, but simply didn’t care.

    Inside the home, police claim they found a small closet covered in fecal matter, where the girl was forced to spend most of her time.

    ‘Horrific’: Indy mother charged in 5-year-old’s murder had prior neglect conviction

    The victim had fecal matter in her hair and on her feet.  She also had lice crawling on her face and head. The girl weighed less at 5 years old than when she was 2.

    Police say the bedroom closet was blocked by a dresser. The mother admitted she routinely put the victim in the closet and did the bare minimum to feed her daughter, who often complained she was hungry.

    McClure confessed she feared her actions would eventually lead to her daughter’s death. She said she had a desire for her daughter to be out of her life.

    McClure was arrested for murder after making those statements.

    “She’s a wicked woman. That’s all I can say,” said Welty.

    “This poor little girl had no chance. She had a parent who was a monster who failed her in every way,” said the victim’s great step aunt Carrie Hogan.
    Toni McClure (left) and Ryan Smith (right)/Marion County Jail

    Police also claim the mother’s boyfriend, Ryan Smith, admitted the victim had been kept in the closet since Thanksgiving and was rarely allowed out.

    Smith said he was concerned the girl was losing weight, but didn’t want to call 911 because he loved the girl’s mother. Smith was arrested for neglect resulting in death.

    “It’s devastating. I wouldn’t even treat my dog that way,” said Hogan.

    “No child or human being should be treated the way she was,” said IMPD Officer Thomas Thompson.

    Because April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month, IMPD reminds everyone to speak up anytime they suspect a child is being abused of neglected.

    “The community has to step forward and reach out to us,” said Thompson. “Help us help these children have a voice.”

    Because McClure was arrested for murder, she is being held without bond pending the filing of formal charges.

    Court documents we obtained show McClure was charged with neglect in December 2018 because her then 3-week-old baby girl was suffering from failure to thrive.

    The baby’s name was redacted from court documents in 2018, but the family confirmed that Kinsleigh was the victim in the previous case.

    McClure got more than 400 days probation after the judge in that case suspended her sentence.

    The victim’s family believes the DCS failed the little girl.

    “We were planning on keeping her, but DCS has their policy of reunification and that’s horrible,” said Welty. “Reunification from the get-go is the problem in my eyes because no matter what the parent does their goal is reunification.”

    “The system has failed this poor child and I don’t want her death to be in vain,” said Hogan.  “Twice they were taken away for the abuse and neglect and she just kept getting them back.  No one knows why. It’s a failed system.”

    Hogan helped set up a GoFundMe to help the family with funeral expenses:

    In a statement sent Wednesday, IMPD Chief Chris Bailey called the death “horrific.”

    “My heart breaks knowing what Kinsleigh went through in her short life and how she left this world,” said IMPD Chief Chris Bailey.

    “The circumstances of Kinsleigh’s death are horrific and beyond comprehension. No human being, let alone a child should be treated like she was. These alleged suspects, if convicted, should never step foot outside of a prison. I am so thankful for the officers, detectives, crime scene personnel, emergency room personnel, coroner’s office officials, and deputy prosecutors for their steadfast dedication to the innocent. What they see and hear every day most of us could not endure. They are truly special people. I pray Kinsleigh has found internal peace and for her siblings who will need a lot of love and care in the coming days, months, and years.”

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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