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Seymour Johnson officer, wife face child abuse charges


GOLDSBORO, N.C. — An officer at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and his wife have been charged with child abuse and neglect, Goldsboro police said.

Air Force Maj. Erin James Pickel, 44, and Jennifer Kay Pickel, 43, both of 527 Forest Hill Drive, surrendered Friday and were each charged with five counts of felony intentional child abuse and five counts of felonious child neglect. They were released after posting $25,000 secured bonds.

The charges are related to incidents involving two adopted children, a 15-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl, dating to 2008, police said.

The boy was adopted in 2005 and the girl in 2006, said Maj. Al King of the Goldsboro Police Department. The Pickels lived in South Carolina at the time.

The Wayne County Department of Social Services received an anonymous tip early this month about alleged abuse, and the agency called in police to investigate, King said.

Both teens had cuts and bruises, King said. They also were allegedly locked out of the house and forced to stay in a playhouse in the backyard.

Neighbors said they never saw the Pickels, whose home is fairly isolated, but they said they had seen children bicycling and skateboarding in the neighborhood.

King said the Pickels home-schooled their children.

Both teens and two other children have been removed from the home and placed in protective custody, King said. He didn't provide the ages of the other two children and said he didn't know if they were adopted as well.

A fifth child, who is over age 18, still lives in the Pickel home, he said.

2013 Jun 17