An Oprah Show from 2000
In 2000, The Oprah Show shared a chilling story of child abuse. It began in the quiet town of Brillion, Wisconsin, where police discovered that Michael and Angeline Rogers had been brutally beating and starving their five children for years.

The abuse came to the attention of authorities after the Rogers allegedly struck their 9- and 11-year-old sons with wooden rods and kicked them out of the house. Police say the older boy walked barefoot and coatless in 30 degree weather to the police station and told his horrifying secret. He recounted how his 7-year-old sister was being kept in a small wire dog cage in the family's dark and freezing basement. The boy told police she was beaten with wooden clubs and barely fed and that when his sister cried, their mother called her a little pig and sprayed her with freezing water from a hose. The boy also recalled a time when he found his sister stuffed in a plastic container under a basement shelf, gasping for breath and covered in her own feces.

After hearing the boy's story, police rushed to the Rogers' home and rescued the girl in the cage. Michael and Angeline Rogers were charged with child abuse and sentenced to one year in jail.

It's been 11 years since that heartbreaking Oprah show, so what happened to the girl in the cage?
Since she was only 7 years old when she was rescued, authorities never released the name of the girl in the cage. Today, she is 21 years old and goes by the name of Chelsea.

Chelsea says she has blocked out many of the painful memories, but she does remember physically being in the cage. She says she knows she was in there long enough to have to go to the bathroom, to get hungry, to want to get out and stretch her legs. She also says there were times when she was in the cage overnight.

"It's hard to talk about because my memories are so fragmented, and we didn't have mirrors or anything, so I didn't know my age. I didn't know what I looked like," Chelsea says.

After Chelsea was rescued by police, she was sent to foster care. She says she lived in several different homes before she was adopted, but she was eventually sent back to foster care. "[That life] was just as bad, except it was emotionally abusive. Not physically. It was just scarring—scarring as in 'I'm going to have to deal with that for the rest of my life,'" she says.
Chelsea and Oprah
For the past year, Chelsea has been trying to understand her painful past. First, she searched online for her own story, and then she talked to local reporters who were covering it at the time. Most recently, she went back to the house where she was kept in the cage.

Watch Chelsea return to her old home.

Today, Chelsea has no relationship with her biological parents. "[My parents] had 10 years of probation after their one year in jail, and I think they should have spent those 10 years suffering as I spent my seven years suffering," Chelsea says. 

She says she has never searched out her mother, but she was in contact with her father for about six months when she was pregnant with her son. She says she knew almost nothing about her past, and she wanted to get some information from him...but she never asked him why he and her mother abused her. "I've never really cared for a response," she says. "I don't know if what they say is true or sincere."

Watch Chelsea talk about her relationship with her biological parents and her brothers.
Chief Daniel Alloy
Police Chief Daniel Alloy was the officer who rescued Chelsea 11 years ago. He says after Chelsea's brother reported what was happening, he and his team immediately responded.

Chief Alloy says he was the first one to arrive at the Rogers' home, and he met Michael and Angeline in the driveway. "I told them why I was there and asked them if there was a child in a cage in the basement. They said not that they knew of, and I said, 'Well, I'm going to check. Do I have your permission?' And they said to go ahead," Chief Alloy says.

Chief Alloy couldn't believe that anyone would keep their child in a cage, but he says after looking around for a bit, he did in fact find the cage in the pitch-black basement. "I couldn't see anything. When I realized she was in there, she peeked out from underneath the blanket and I had an immediate need to get her out of there and get her out of that situation." Chief Alloy says. He says he opened the cage, Chelsea crawled out to him and he picked her up and got her out of there. "I just knew that, in my own mind, she was going to be okay from that point on."

Chief Alloy reconnected with Chelsea about a year ago, and he says she is like a daughter to him and his wife. He also says he's seen many cases of child abuse over the years, but he has been inspired by Chelsea. "She came out of that cage. She was the smartest, most beautiful little girl and she didn't do a turnaround. She put her nose straight forward and she hasn't deviated from the path to this day," he says.
Chelsea and her son, James
Photo: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
Today, Chelsea says her sole purpose in life is to give her son James the childhood she never had. "I would go to sleep every night saying that I would never do what my parents did to me," Chelsea says. "I want him to grow up not having to worry about somebody not being there for him, and he's got plenty of love."

She also says she has a message for victims of abuse—she wants them to know that there is hope. "They have a choice to be a victim and throw their entire life away, or they can stand up, move forward, make a life and learn from their experiences," Chelsea says. "If you do that, you can lead an absolutely great life."


Next Story