Though his stepsister was spared the abuse, she was still desperate to escape the trailer the family lived in. She ran away to Kentucky and was picked up by police. She begged them not to take her back home and eventually confessed her family's horrifying secret.
Deputy (now Sheriff) Todd Pate heard the stepsister's story and alerted Indiana authorities. After a brief investigation and visit to the home, a case worker saw no reason to take Clayton away. In his gut, Sheriff Pate knew something was wrong. "The details that the stepsister had given me—the chains around him, the dog pen fence, knowing where the key to the padlock was, how she would get him out of the closet and put lotion on him at times—I felt that I couldn't let it go."