HARRISONVILLE — One of the daughters of a man accused in the death of a baby he allegedly fathered with a different daughter says she was fed up with how her sister was being treated, but waited until she was 18 before coming forward because she was afraid of being placed in state custody.
"Everybody says I'm a brave girl," the 18-year-old told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. "I didn't think I could ever do it. But I was tired of it. I was tired of not having no home, not having anything."
Details of the family's lifestyle began to emerge in October, when the young woman told police that her sister was being molested by their father and had given birth to four of his children.
"My dad was doing all this crazy stuff," she said. "I got fed up with it until I finally ran my mouth. ... I couldn't see my sister suffer anymore. That's why I wanted her out."
She said her sister, now 19, was 13 when their father started molesting her. The 18-year-old said her sibling confided in her about the abuse after becoming pregnant the first time.
"But I already knew," she said.
The 47-year-old father is charged with second-degree murder in the death of a baby born in November 2006 and believed to have died months later after not receiving medical treatment for pneumonia.
The man also is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, statutory rape and two counts each of incest and abandoning a corpse. He was arrested last week and is being held in the Cass County jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond.
Two of the other babies he allegedly fathered with his daughter also are dead, while the surviving child, a 3-year-old boy, is in state custody.
Prosecutors say a public defender, Janeal Matheson, has agreed to represent the man. The attorney didn't immediately return a call from the Associated Press seeking comment.
The suspect's wife, also 47, has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child because authorities say she did little to stop her daughter's sexual abuse. She is free on bond and due in court next week for a case review.
No attorney is listed for her in court records, and calls to multiple phone numbers for her went unanswered.
The Associated Press is withholding the names of the suspects and other family members to protect the identity of the daughter, an alleged sexual assault victim.
The body of the baby whose death is blamed on the father was found earlier this month in a cooler on a rural property just outside of Harrisonville, a town of about 9,000 less than an hour south of Kansas City.
The body of a second child was found in a different cooler on the same property, and investigators have said they are looking into the circumstances of that death.
The family — there were three other daughters besides the girl who gave birth to the four children — lived on the rural Harrisonville property in a camper behind the home of the suspect's parents from 2005 until last October .
Before settling there, family members moved around a lot, the 18-year-old daughter said. They briefly lived in Oklahoma, where authorities believe a third child — born in 2004, before the others — was buried.
Investigators in Missouri have said they notified Oklahoma authorities, but aren't sure where the case of that child's death stands.
The 18-year-old said her family stayed on the move before going to their grandparents' Harrisonville property. After Oklahoma, they lived in a series of Missouri towns including Blue Springs, Independence and Oak Grove. She said they sometimes lived in campgrounds and storage units.
She said she waited until she was 18 before leaving the family so she would be old enough to legally take care of her self.
"I had had enough of it," the young woman said. "Whoever's father can sit and do this to their daughter needs to go to jail for life. I would hate to see any family go through what we went through."
Tammy Allison, a cousin of the suspect's four daughters, said the girls were afraid of their father and that's why none of them sought help sooner.
"He threatened to kill them if they ever said anything," Allison said Thursday. "They were petrified."
Members of the extended family didn't spend much time with the suspect, his wife and children, and weren't aware of any sexual abuse, the cousin said.
"We'd see them, but we didn't see them a lot," Allison said. "They were living at different places and they would leave and then they would pop up again."
"You just never know."
A preliminary hearing for the man is scheduled for March 5.