RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — A family searches for answers after a Raleigh County man was allegedly dropped off at a McDowell County hospital the week of Thanksgiving, with life-threatening injuries.
According to the family, 27-year-old Gerald Bennett left home about 18 months ago to be with a woman he met on a dating site. However, two women who never met the Bennett family said they have information on what happened to Gerald.
Jessica Osborne of Welch and Sheila Short of North Carolina, are sisters. They said on Sunday, December 4, 2022, that Gerald was living with a couple in a Montcalm mobile home park. The couple are relatives of the sisters, they reported.
“I’ve seen Gerald locked up in a dog cage with a padlock on it, with a diaper on, an adult diaper, no blanket, no pillow, nothing,” said Short. “He was curled up in a fetal position. And they would keep him there all night.”
Short said she saw the incident during a video chat with her relatives. She alleged she heard Gerald being beaten away from the camera.
Osborne said she could not confirm reports a girlfriend was initially living with Gerald in the mobile home and the couple.
“I have no clue how they met him. No clue,” said Osborne. “And I’ve tried to ask them and tried to ask them. And they just won’t give anymore answers than what I’ve got. I’m still sitting here, asking questions.”
Osborne said the couple padlocked the fridge, and Short said Gerald was not permitted to sit on furniture during a visit to her home in North Carolina, which made the sisters suspicious of Gerald’s relationship with the couple.
“He had to ask to use the bathroom, and he had to ask to sit down,” Short recalled. “I told him, Gerald, you don’t have to ask. Just do it. But he was very very quiet, but he was respectful and he was nice.”
The sisters said they devised a plan to learn more about Gerald’s situation and to help him. Short was able to snap a screenshot during a video chat which showed Gerald with two black eyes, looking pale and underweight.
But on November 23, 2022, the female relative allegedly told Short Gerald injured himself, and she took him to Welch Community Hospital.
On Thanksgiving Day, Bennet’s father, Kermit “Buddy” Bennett reported, a relative made a Facebook post asking for information on Bennet.
Osborne reached out to the family with the photo Short had taken, she said.
Buddy said Gerald was left at the hospital wearing only pants, with life-threatening injuries. He reported Gerald had a body temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, bruises, a severe staph infection in a wound, and older bone fractures and that he had to be placed on a ventilator.
He was sent to an out-of-state hospital, where he underwent surgery for his jaw. Buddy said doctors had to break Gerald’s jaw and reset it because it had fused together after an earlier, unset break.
West Virginia State Police and Mercer County Sheriff’s Department did not immediately comment on Monday, December 5, 2022.
The sisters and Buddy said they are hopeful police will investigate Gerald’s injuries.