Mother of severely malnourished Anderson teen says she was unaware of alleged abuse

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ANDERSON, Ind. (Jan. 6, 2015) - More than a month has passed since a mentally disabled Anderson teen was rushed to the hospital weighing less than 40 pounds.

The 15-year-old girl is still at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital where she continues to recover. Her biological mother did not have custody of the girl and had no idea she was suffering alleged abuse while in the care of her grandparents.

The grandparents, Steve and Joetta Sells, are in jail. They each face a dozen charges, including neglect of a dependent, criminal confinement and battery.

"It's just shocking that he would do that to his own granddaughter," said Jannifer Sells, the teen's mother.

Police say the grandparents collected $720 per month in government aid while the girl wasted away. The teen was near death and medics had to resuscitate her when she was airlifted to the hospital on December 1.

Sells is amazed her daughter is alive after everything she's been through, "It’s a miracle, it’s God."

Jannifer Sells and her fiance Anthony Gaw said they want the girl to live with them when she is healthy enough  to go home.

Gaw said they've been in touch with the doctors and nurses at the hospital. He said doctors recommended taking the teen off life support last week, as they were nearly certain she would not make it.

"They took the life support off her and she fought all night," said Gaw.

Gaw said she started making progress around New Year's Eve. He said the girl is awake, alert and can get out of bed.

"They're going to do some more tests to find out how much damage has actually been done because of the starvation and everything that she has went through, because of her mental illness anyway I don't think she fully understood what was being done to her and I'm glad," said Gaw.

Jennifer Sells told FOX59 her father denied countless requests to arrange a visit with her daughter.

"Plenty of times, birthdays, Christmas, holidays and he wouldn't do it," said Sells.

The court awarded custody to Jannifer's father, Steve Sells, in 2009. Jannifer was admitted to St. Vincent's Anderson Center at the time and hoped to regain custody.

Jannifer and her fiance have not been able to visit her daughter in the hospital yet.