Mother and Partner Sentenced to Prison for Purposely Starving 6-Year-Old Child, Depriving Him of Medical Care

Natalie Shaffer, Zachary VincentNatalie Shaffer and Zachary Vincent /Submitted Image

PENNSYLVANIA Attorney General Michelle Henry announced that Natalie Shaffer and Zachary Vincent, of Luzerne County, were sentenced on Tuesday to prison terms for abusing and neglecting a young boy.

Shaffer, the boy’s mother, will serve 5 to 12 years in prison, followed by seven years of probation. She previously pleaded guilty to felony counts of aggravated assault of a child and endangering the welfare of a child.

Vincent, Schaffer’s paramour at the time of the crimes, will serve 4 to 12 years, followed by seven years of probation. He previously pleaded guilty to the same charges.

Both defendants are prohibited from any contact with the child for the entirety of the prison and probation terms.

The boy was purposely starved, neglected, and not taken to medical appointments. School officials prompted an investigation when they noticed the boy’s condition — he only weighed about 20 pounds at age 6.

“The details of this case are beyond disturbing — they are difficult to even imagine,” Attorney General Henry said. “This couple deprived an innocent boy of basic care, showing callous disregard, and committing intentional acts of harm against the child. My office will continue to stand up and fight for the most vulnerable in our society – our children – and strive to ensure those who harm them are held accountable.”

Shaffer, 28, and Vincent, 33, shared responsibility for four minor children, in total. An investigation into their parenting started in 2021 when a school official called the police to report that Schaffer’s 6-year-old child had signs of severe distress and malnourishment. He appeared gaunt and underfed.

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The investigation found a history of neglect with the child. He had been previously hospitalized and in foster care for starvation. Additionally, the child had many medical issues that were ignored. Shaffer canceled, or simply did not show up, for over 100 medical appointments.

When agents arrived at Vincent and Shaffer’s residence in February 2021, they found the home in deplorable condition, unfit for human habitation. There was garbage throughout the home, in every room, including on the children’s beds. The home contained broken furniture, dog feces, cigarette ashes, and exposed wiring.

The four children have since been placed in protective custody.

This case was prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Angela Sperrazza and Senior Deputy Attorney General Michelle Hardik.

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