RANDLEMAN, N.C. -- Linda Bensky can't wrap her head around why her granddaughter was in her father's care.
"He wanted her dead. I know he did. He wanted her dead. That was their plan and thankfully it didn't happen that way," she says. "Obviously, he doesn't love his child."
Benskey says her 5-year-old granddaughter was taken out of her father's care twice. Police say Adam Byrd took over custody this spring and was considered the child's caretaker when they had to go to his house on Back Street and rescue her. They found the little girl locked in a 2-foot by 4-foot closet with no food or water. She was bruised, beaten and surrounded by rat poison.
Benskey says the little girl used to live with her and she was later put in the care of her great aunt and uncle.
"She thrived," says Kelli Smith, the girl's great aunt. "She could speak."
Smith says it all went downhill when the girl went back to Byrd and his girlfriend Cyrstal Carnahan.
"She fell off the face of the earth and nobody could find her," adds Bensky.
Benskey is technically a step-grandmother and the great aunt and uncle are also step-relatives. They say that's why they couldn't keep the child. They worried for months and say they tried to get help from police and social services.
Byrd and Carnahan were arrested on several child abuse charges this week and appeared before a judge at the Randolph County Courthouse Friday. Carnahan's mother was there to defend her daughter.
"I'm just confused," says Brenda Linebaugh. "I know my daughter didn't do this."
Linebaugh also can't wrap her head around this. There's a lot of details the courts and social services can't release. But it's clear to the little girl's extended family that someone made a mistake.
"They put her back," Benskey says. "The law, the system, put that child back in that danger and it failed her."
The little girl's daycare director was also in the court, saying someone needs to be a voice for that child.
Police told us yesterday they rescued the girl from a 2 by 4 closet -- beaten and bruised -- no food or water.
Before she was put back in her father's care -- they say she lived with her great aunt and uncle.
Harrell says she and her daycare workers could notice the difference in the little girl between custody changes, saying it got worse when she went back into her father's care.
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Harrell was with police when they found the little girl, so she could see a familiar face.
"I was in shock," Harrell says. "I had no clue she would look as bad as she did. Plus, I was just happy to be there...she latched on to me and just kept saying 'don't leave.'"
After police found the child she was taken to the hospital. Police say she's now in the care of DSS. When we asked DSS about the case, they said by law they couldn't acknowledge any case or make a comment about case details.
Byrd and Carnahan were both appointed attorneys in court. They're due back in October.
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