WARNING - Distressing content
A couple in the US has been charged with murder after a 12-year-old boy's starved body was found in their family home.
Pennsylvania boy Maxwell Schollenberger was starved so badly he weighed just 21kg, less than half the average body-weight for a boy his age before his death in May.
In what has been described as a horror case of torture, Maxwell was found covered in his own faeces, while windows were sealed shut with duct tape and lights taken out of his room.
There was so much human waste in his room that the walls started to turn mouldy.
Every item of clothing in his room was covered in waste, and investigators said "claw marks appeared in the child victim's sheets".
His door was kitted with metal hooks as makeshift locks, and he was physically and emotionally abused.
Prosecutors arrested Scott Schollenberger Jr and his fiancee Kimberly Maurer and charged the pair with murder.
They allege the couple kept Maxwell locked away in his room for years.
An autopsy revealed Maxwell died due to a combination of blunt force trauma to his head, starvation and malnutrition.
Doctors said he would have been too weak to walk unaided at the time of his death.
In stark contrast, his alleged killers had other children living at the home, who they showered with love, gifts and attention.
Maxwell's half-siblings said they had rarely seen the 12-year-old and the couple's friends were not aware of Maxwell's existence, according to PennLive.
While his siblings went to school and received medical attention, the 12-year-old was denied both rights.
"This tiny 12-year-old boy never knew the unconditional love from a family," said Lebanon Country District Attorney Pier Hess Graf in a press conference.
"Max Schollenberger existed. I will not call this living. He existed in a state of perpetual suffering.
"By the time of his death, he was in that room 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Schollenberger and Maurer have been charged with homicide and child endangerment, and are being held in a county prison without bail.
The other children are now in state care.