Byron and Gwendalyn Buthman convicted of starving adopted daughter


A cruel Idaho couple was found guilty of starving their adopted daughter so badly that the then 5-year-old went into cardiac arrest from neglect.

After several delays in the case, Byron Buthman, 57, and Gwendalyn Buthman, 45, were both convicted of aggravated abuse of the girl, who was reportedly restricted to eating plant-based protein and prosecutors said was forced to sleep in the laundry room.

They were charged in 2019 with injuring a child and aggravated assault, both felonies.

The Ada County Attorney’s Office described the heartless treatment the girl, between the ages of 3 and 6, suffered in 2015-2018.

The girl, identified by EB in court documents, said she only ate “porridge” and mostly slept in the laundry room on a thin mat with no blankets, according to the Idaho Statesman.

The newspaper also reported that EB testified that other family members – the couple had other adopted children – ate “regular food” and sat together while the victim sat in a high chair in the corner.

“I sat in the high chair for about a couple of hours and I had scars on the sides of my legs because of it,” EB reportedly testified.

The girl was also forced to drink three-quarters of a gallon of water daily, but if she needed to pee more than once an hour, she was told to go outside and use a five-gallon bucket, the Idaho Statesman reported.

She was also forced to pick up dog poop as a chore, the outlet reported.

“She was thin, her skin was dry. She appeared malnourished – just not a healthy child,” said Dawn Cliff, a postdoctoral interventionist who worked with the girl for several months between 2017 and 2018.

The girl suffered a heart attack in October 2017 while being forced to go outside after soiling her diaper, the Statesman reported, and was spotted by Cliff, who saw her not moving.

“I remember Gwen and Byron rushing to the hospital,” EB said. “I remember doing nothing in front of the swing, just staring, not moving.”

After she returned from the hospital, the girl still had chores to do, even though PediaSure was added to her meager diet, according to the Statesman.

When the Buthmans were arrested in 2019, Ada Assistant District Attorney John Dinger described the case during a hearing as “basically torture and neglect,” according to the Idaho Press.

“This little child was adopted when he was 3 years old and at that time he just started being tortured and starved, as we would call it,” he reportedly said.

Buthman’s trial was originally scheduled for September 2019 but has been repeatedly postponed due to postponements and judge reassignments, KTVB 7 reported.

The TV station reported Byron and Gwendalyn Buthman would be sentenced on September 19 and could face 20 years in prison.

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