Community in spotlight in wake of cage case

Date: 2005-09-16

BETH STALLINGS

Michael and Sharen Gravelle, who last week had 11 adopted children taken from their St. John Road home by the Huron County Sheriff's Office, are not currently living in the home, and their adoptive children have been separated and relocated to foster homes.

The Gravelles' only response so far to the allegations has been a statement issued by their attorney, David Sherman, who said the children were put not in cages, but "enclosures."

Neighbors have said the Gravelles have not been seen in the neighborhood since the children were removed from the home. Sharen Gravelle's mother, Mildred Brent Timperman, would not say where the couple is currently living and drove away from reporters attempting to talk to her yesterday.

The frenzy surrounding the Gravelles' story has stretched across the globe as newspapers and television stations all over the world have run stories on the family. CNN Headline News' Nancy Grace has covered the story on her prime-time show, and rumors of interest from such talk-show heavyweights as Montel Williams, Oprah Winfrey and Bill O'Reilly have been circulating since the story broke earlier this week.

With the swarm of media interest following the story, the sheriff's and prosecutor's offices have seemingly thrown a veil of secrecy over the case. Both continually said yesterday they were offering no new information on the case.

Many residents of nearby Wakeman continue to be shocked and disgusted by the news and are trying to make sense of the deluge of media that has fallen on their town.

"I don't think it deserved national attention, but I think the parents are screwed up, and to me it's pretty sick," said Wakeman resident Phil Wallen. "It's unbelievable, and I hope they get prosecuted."

"The kids didn't ask for that life," Wallen said. As punishment, he said, the parents should be put in jail and "let them be the ones who are caged up."

Wakeman native John Hobbs just shook his head and said, "It's sad. The whole situation is just so sad."

Hobbs had his own theory about why the parents may have taken in so many special-needs children: He said they probably did it for the money, not to help the kids.

Court documents say that Michael Gravelle has alleged his wife received $4,265 per month from adoptions subsidies.

"The kids aren't with (the adoptive parents) now, and that's a good thing," Hobbs said. "I just hope it stays that way."

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