Parents Arrested After Girl's Burns Went Untreated

Police: Parents Used Lotion On Burns

An Indianapolis couple whose 11-year-old daughter's second- and third-degree burns went untreated for nearly two weeks were arrested Wednesday evening.


A neighbor called 911 on Tuesday after he heard the girl screaming in pain, 6News' Jack Rinehart reported.

Investigators said Fredrick and Sharon Wessel's southeast-side home at 343 Villa Ave. had no heat, and that their daughter, Heather, was standing near a propane heater when her pajamas caught fire the night of Dec. 24. She suffered second- and third-degree burns on her legs and buttocks.

The girl was transported to Wishard Memorial Hospital and then Riley Hospital For Children on Tuesday. Police said she had to be carried from the home because she could not walk. The girl's mother told police she used moisturizer to try to help heal the burns.

"There was no way she was not in pain every day and there was no way that any type of treatment that they used on her would not cause serious pain," said Detective Genae Gehring.

Sharon Wessel, 35, told Rinehart that she was sorry as she was being arrested on Wednesday.

Fredrick and Sharon Wessel

Heather Wessel underwent surgery on Wednesday. She was last listed in critical condition. Doctors told police it's possible she could lose her legs.

Fredrick and Sharon Wessel were each preliminarily charged with one count of felony child neglect resulting in serious bodily injury.

Another child in the home was taken into protective custody by Child Protective Services.

Fredrick Wessel, 48, was sentenced to eight years in prison for child molestation in 1988. He served five years of the term and was released on probation.