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Brother of Teen Found In Basement Recalls Harrowing Details of Isolation, Abuse by White Adoptive Parents

“It gets to that point where you’re like an animal. You feel like an animal.”

These were the chilling words of 18-year-old Eddie Carter as he recounted painful details of isolation, neglect and abuse at the hands of his white adoptive parents, Richard and Cynthia Kelly. Who knew that years after he was removed from their home that his biological 14-year-old brother would be subjected to the same inhumane treatment.

In November, reported that a teenage boy weighing a mere 55 pounds had been rescued from the basement of a Helena, Alabama, home. The unnamed boy turned out to be Carter’s younger brother.

The sickly teen was taken to Children’s of Alabama hospital where authorities determined he had been kept in “forced isolation for an extended period of time” and doctors deemed him chronically malnourished, dehydrated and suffering from shock and hypothermia, among other things. Essentially, he was on the brink of death.

Just two day’s later, Helena police arrived at the Kelly home to arrest the abusive couple. According to, both Richard and Cynthia Kelly were charged with aggravated child abuse, a Class B felony that carries up to 20 years in prison if they are convicted. To Carter’s relief, the duo has remained behind bars on $1 million bond since their arrest last month.

“He was so small, I thought he was about 8 or 10,” next-door neighbor Troy Clayton said of the young teen, who he said he saw mowing the lawn from time to time. “It took all he had to push the lawnmower.”

Richard Kelly (left), Eddie Carter (center) and Cynthia Kelly (right).

Richard Kelly (left), Eddie Carter (center) and Cynthia Kelly (right).

News of his brother’s condition was extremely shocking, but all too real, as Carter had already experienced his younger brother’s strife years before. He vividly recalled being locked away in the basement of his adoptive parents’ home, deprived of basic necessities like food, water, sunlight and a place to go to the bathroom.

“You’re down there and nobody knows you’re down there except the people in the house,” Carter told in a series of extensive interviews. “It’s up to those people to make sure everything’s going to be all right and it’s not all right and you’re kinda lost. You sit in the corner and weigh out what means the most. It was horrible. Horrific.”

“There is a little hate building up inside for the people who did this,” he continued. “But Thanksgiving just passed and there is a lot I have to be grateful for. [My brother] is one of them. He’s alive and it could be worse, so I keep that in mind.”

Carter told the news site that he and his brother were adopted as young children by the Kellys years after their biological mother lost her parental rights (for reasons he didn’t specify). He recalled everything being peachy keen when he and his brother first joined the couple and their 1-year-old daughter, who also was adopted. After all, it beat being bounced around from foster home to foster home like they had been the last few years.

“Usually, we’d go to foster homes where there were other kids there,” Carter said. “I looked out for my brother, especially if the state was making decisions that pertained to both of us. You learn how to be protective. You realize what matters most, what’s most valuable and my brother was most valuable. Yeah, we were really close. I didn’t let nobody bother him.”

Carter said the Kelly residence initially felt like home, but things quickly went sour. The teen said he began having behavioral issues and acting out, for which he was punished with a whipping, which he called a reasonable form of punishment. Then about halfway through his 18 months of living with his new family, Carter told that he began being banished to the basement.

Down there, there was no bed. There was no bathroom. The teen said there was a door leading to the outside, but it was locked. The light switches had been altered so he could not turn the lights off or on. He also recalled a door leading to the main part of the house but said there was a motion sensor on it to alert the family if he attempted to open it.

Carter said sometimes he was remanded to the basement for months at a time, barely surviving off of bread, water and vegetables that his adoptive parents brought to him.

“I had chances to come out or whatever, but they would always provoke or instigate a situation just to make up something for me to go back down there,” he recounted. “And that kept happening and happening and happening. So that was the period I just stayed down there.”

Carter said some days he was forced to relieve himself in a corner of the dark basement, making the place smell awful. The teen soon developed a nervous habit of biting his lips until they bled, after which the Kelleys would pour salt in his raw wounds as punishment.

That’s when he decided to rebel.

“I would bang on the walls just to keep people awake in the house,” Carter told “I got aggressive, like, ‘I’m not about to stay down here. Hell no. I wasn’t having it, and I think I said I was going to do something to somebody.”

The bad behavior eventually got Carter removed from his adoptive parents’ home, leaving behind his younger brother to fend for himself. The news site reported that the then-young teen was bounced around to several behavioral health care facilities, one of which he said really helped him level out.

In 2013, Carter was adopted by Arizona rapper Nick Carter (also known as Murs) and his wife, Kate. The teen said he thought of his brother every day they were separated and tried not to worry too much, as there were no signs of abuse toward him from the Kellys.

During a trip to visit his biological family in Mississippi, Carter and his new parents tried to visit his younger brother at the Kelly home but were turned away by Richard at the door. Carter said he caught a quick glimpse of his brother but didn’t get to say hello.

“He looked really skinny but I didn’t think nothing of it at the time,” he said.

It was just weeks ago that Carter learned the shocking news about his brother. He said he is still in disbelief and blames himself for what happened.

“What possessed these people to do that? It’s still mind blowing to me,” he said. “The things that happened to me when I was there, you just say a prayer and keep your head up high and hope that the same thing doesn’t happen to someone you really love and care about, that you know is still there. To see it did happen is very disheartening. Your brother is all you have. I blame myself.” reported that Carter has since visited his brother, who remains hospitalized in Helena. He was taken off a respirator and has started the physical therapy process to get back on his feet. The younger teen has declined to see anyone from his family, however, including his older brother.

“I just want to make sure everything I’m doing in Arizona and that I have lined up is beneficial not only for me but for him, too,” Carter said of his brother. “If I could talk to him, I’d let him know my place is always open to him. I’m his family.”

The Kellys are scheduled to appear in court Dec. 14 and 15 for their preliminary hearings.

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