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“She clung to me:” Woman describes heartbreaking moment 5-year-old rescued from closet

RANDLEMAN, N.C. -- A woman described the heart-wrenching moment a 5-year-old girl who used to attend her day care was rescued from a small, locked closet in a North Carolina home, according to WGHP.

“Her feet were black, her little hands were shaky," said Tracy Harrell, owner of the Randleman Enrichment Center. "She had bit all her nails down until they were bleeding. Hair was shaved, what wasn’t had been pulled out so she had bald spots all over her head. Her face was dirty and cut up and she had bruises around her neck."

Police say it appeared that the child had been neglected and abused.

Harrell said she couldn’t believe the little girl in the closet was the same 5-year-old that used to go to her day care.

“(She had) little blonde curls and the big blue eyes,” Harrell said. “There was never a day when she left and she wouldn't say, ‘I love you miss Tracy.’”

That bond was there the moment the child was freed.

“She clung to me and wrapped her arms around me,” Harrell said. “I had her laying here and she kept saying ‘please don't leave me, please don't leave me.’”

Police have not said how long the girl was in the closest underneath the staircase, but they did say she came out with burns, bruises and had no access to food and water.

“I said, 'Did you eat breakfast this morning?' And she said, ‘No.’ I said, 'Did you eat dinner last night?' and she said, ‘No.’ I said, 'When is the last time you ate?' and she said, ‘I don't remember.’”

Police said there was rat poison inside the closest where she was being kept, but the child never touched it.

“I hope that she gets put into a loving home and gets to be a normal little girl, not having to worry about when her next meal is coming or when a beating is going to happen or when her next burn is going to happen,” Harrell said. “Just hope she doesn't have to know this fear ever again.”

The 5-year-old is in the custody of the Department of Social Services.

The girl’s dad, Adam Byrd, and Crystal Carnahan were charged with abuse, neglect and assault with a weapon.