Oprah: Tortured 7 year old girl who lived in dog cage finally speaks

Share with your friends


Chelsea, girl who was tortured and made to live in dog cage talks to Oprah. Screen shot via Oprah Winfrey Show.

Chelsea, a 21 year old girl from Brillion, Wisconsin whose name was not known 14 years ago when she was referred to as “girl in cage”, opened up for the first time on Oprah today. Fourteen years ago, Chelsea was the victim of relentless torture. The abuse was brought to the attention of the local, Brillion Wisconsin police department by one of Chelsea’s 4 brothers. Chelsea was only 7 years old at the time she was forced to sleep in a tiny dog cage in her family’s basement. She tells Oprah today that she didn’t even know that her house had a yard because she was confined for so long. Cold and scared, Chelsea goes onto tell Oprah about the minor infraction that prompted her parents to imprison her in the dark, damp, confined dog cage.

Chelsea explains that at first she was locked in closet with little to nothing to eat. Her 4 brothers were also abused, but not to the extent that Chelsea, the only girl, was. One of her brothers let her out of the closet one day and proceeded to break into candy drawer to pillage for food. When her mother found out, she was “furious”, according to Chelsea. She locked the two boys out of the house without shoes or coats in the harsh Wisconsin winter elements and from that point forward, Chelsea was confined to a dog cage.

Although she doesn’t remember all the details, she does remember certain parts of the torture. She had only a small tan blanket which she believes couldn’t have been enough to keep her warm. There was no bathroom, so she was forced to find places on the cement to relieve herself and would then get into further trouble for going to the bathroom on the floor.

The nightmare finally ended when one of her brothers walked to the police station, barefoot and alerted the police to the abuse. Police went to the house and found little Chelsea, curled up in a dark basement inside a tiny dog cage. Chelsea’s biological parents, Michael and Angeline Rogers, both 28 at the time, were only sentenced to one year in prison.


Even more heartbreaking, older news reports suggest that poor Chelsea might have deserved this torture and that her parents had no choice. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, dated September 16, 1988, the absurd allegation towards little Chelsea was reported the following way:

Court records that were kept secret until now to protect confidential information involving the girl and her four brothers describe Michael and Angeline Rogers’ failure to cope after learning the girl had a mental disorder.

The Rogerses, who were sentenced to one year in jail Friday instead of being sent to prison, abused the girl after episodes in which she put feces into milk in the family’s refrigerator and wrapped a sheet around her infant brother’s neck, testimony and court records say.

While society can’t excuse the actions of the parents, who had faced up to 40 years in prison, the issues surrounding the case are more complex than it first seemed, according to experts who have studied the case.

When the girl was 3, a psychologist diagnosed her as having a mental condition known as oppositional defiance disorder. Its symptoms include deliberately annoying people, defying adults’ requests and being angry, resentful and spiteful.

Two psychologists and a psychiatrist, who examined the girl before the parents were arrested, later agreed with that diagnosis.

Chelsea, who is now 21 years old, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show with a message of hope. She surprised Oprah with her poise, positive attitude and determination. Oprah described her as a “survivor”. Chelsea is now the proud mother of an 18 month old son, who she adores and says the experience has made her a better mother because now she knows what “not to do”. She also tells of a life after being rescued — having been shuttled from foster home to foster home which she describes as leaving her without stability and consequently adding to ongoing mental abuse. However, in the face of such horror, it would seem from the interview that she has found a way to persevere and move on. Chelsea admits that she’s received very little counseling in which Oprah encouraged her to seek out for the sake of her son.

Share with your friends

  • Haley Cook

    I am watching this show right now! :'( It’s horrible. I can’t imagine being locked in a dog cage for so long until I was saved at 7 years old! Her parents only got 1 year!!! That is pathetic! Poor Chelsea. :'(

  • michael mapes

    Regardless of a disorder she may have, there is no excuse for a parent to lock a child in a cage. The sentence they served will only be augmented when they face what god has in store for them since the system that says “in god we trust” failed to give them what they deserved.

  • Valerie

    Unbelievable! God bless our children. Where are the parents, Michael and Angeline Rogers???? Do they have more children????

  • Wow I can not believe her biological parents only got ONE YEAR!!!!! What was wrong with that Judge..I mean seriously they obviously had mental problems themselves your Honor!!!!! Good for Chelsea for being a bigger person and treating her child the way a child should be treated!

  • Amy Morris

    I just saw the episode and was shocked. I cannot believe it!! I am so glad that Chelsea is doing great, and I am glad to hear that she is raising her son with the love that she never had.

    Chelsea, I am so sorry to hear that your “guardians” only got 1 year. I am one who believes in the death penalty. They should have gotten the same treatment, that they showed you.

    You are a role model. You are an inspiration.

    Your friend,

  • Aden

    I am so sickened watching this on TV right now. This poor girl. How could anybody do something thing this to somebody? How could they have only gotten a year in prison? They should have been sentenced to live. I am disgusted!

  • linbat555@aol.com

    Horrible horrible horrible one year unexcusable for Wisconsin totally unexcusable!!!!!

  • Annie

    Even if this poor little girl had a psychological disorder, NO ONE deserves treatment like this! The parents got a slap on the wrist. If I was their judge, they’d still be behind bars today. NO EXCUSE for what they did to their children. Chelsea is an amazing, articulate woman so all I can say is that I truly wish her the best.

  • Barb Simonis

    I also watched this. I remember hearing about it years ago.
    I dont’ care what she may have done, this is criminal and the parents got off way to easy. They should have gotten her medical help if she had issues.
    Sadder yet, there are more cases of this going on through-out the United States. People send money to other countries when kids right here need help.

  • Stacy

    Did anyone else just see what I was watching? I’m almost weirded out about how calm and collected she is about the whole situation. She really needs to seek some mental health. Poor thing, hopefully she lives a full and happy life that isn’t always reminded of the horrible things that happened to her.

  • Gaye Brownie

    This is such a sad story. I saw most of this on Oprah today.

    How old was this little girl when she was put in the cage, and how long was she in it?

  • Don

    It’s disheartening that the parents abused their daughter this way, but I can understand how a child can drive you to the brink. Our son was also diagnosed with ODD in the mid 90’s and we barely survived his childhood. He used to attack his older sister and did terrible things like chasing her around the house with a knife when we weren’t looking and broke the frame around her bedroom door trying to get into her locked door while she was trying to get away from him. We tried desperately to stop him from behaving that way. Our psychologist advised us to wrap our arms around him and pin him to the floor until he cooperated, but it was like holding down a pit bull and we weren’t very successful. We pretty much felt helpless. There’s not enough room in this reply to explain all the details, all the counsellors, therapists and doctors we went through, but I know that even if we didn’t have access to all those resources, there is no way that we could have locked our child away like an animal. There is help out there and these parents should have sought help.

  • Joey

    Who really put the feces in the milk ?

  • lola

    Locking a little 7 year old girl in a DOG cage? Thats horrible parenting! And locking your kids out of the house barefoot and coatless in extreme cold weather!? This is infuriating me! And the fact that they only got 1 YEAR IN JAIL infuriates me even more. I think that they should’ve gotten at LEAST 25 years in prison. No matter the condition of the child, it is 100% unacceptable to lock your child in closet, dog cage, or outside the house. These parents are horrible! I wish Chelsea and her brothers the best in life and that they shall never go back to their stupid, selfish, abusive parents!

  • Oprah, please offer this poor girl help I can’t believe you did’t offer her any or give her something for her child to put away for her college fund someday and to give the girl something! With all the great things you hve done in this world this is one gal who deserves something! I can not believe this girl turned out normal ! and I truley believe she was not a mental child, her parents were just plain evil!!! if this was to happen today they would of been put away for years! I’am so sad I cried the whole time and I watched it 4 hours ago and can’t stop thinking of her, Where does she live? does she have a job, and what kind of a job? is she married ? I just want to help her I can’t believe there are so many evil people and as far as I’m concerned her parent’a are just as bad as child molesters. they should of been strung up! I think people ought to know where they are living so their aware of them,that their not comitting simular crimes!!!!

  • Michele

    I just want to say, What kind of judge gives one year for such a crime, however lets say she had this mental illness and you needed to protect your other children, a normal response would be to get her help and remove her if necessary from the home, however did anyone including the judge ever question, HELLO, they also abused the other children. No one ever thought about that!!! These parents are abusive, no excuse and wow, no punishment!! If it really had anything to do with “mental disorder” where is the excuse for the abuse of the other children too!!! Never an excuse for abuse!!! Shame, on the judge!

  • tanya

    so what happens to the next set of parents that lock their kid in a cage…they will refer back to this judge’s decision and demand the same. he should have been an advocate for those children. he too will have to face GOD for his bad decisions.

  • Bonnie

    Oppositional Defiant Disorder – psychiatric disorders are frequently given to kids. I bet while in foster care the poor girl was given more than one psychiatric diagnosis and medication (that does not mean the diagnoses were correct).

    Foster home after foster home – adopted and back into the foster care system. It sounds like she is overcoming past abuse. I hope so.


  • Melody

    I am wondering, with Oprah being such a journalist genious, why didn’t she ask some important questions, such as, “how did you become so articulate”? Or, “who’s the father of your baby”, or, “how do you make a living” Why didn’t Oprah dig deeper into why in the heck this happened? Why not do some extensive research with extended family members? I do believe the events that went on during her childhood, but seemed a bit contrived. Chelsea was too laid back. There is something rotten in Denmark, or should I say in Wisconsin. A lot more to this story. Wish Oprah should have had her staff really seriously study this. I feel for Chelsea, but something isn’t right. God speed to Chelsea and her brothers.

  • John

    The parents should have seved their sentences in a small dog cage.

  • SCgirl

    Oprah has never claimed to be a “journalist genius,” as Melody says in her comment above, but there were probably questions that were agreed to before the show and some topics that Chelsea very likely said were off bounds. While I would have liked to have known more about her foster care situation, the father of her baby and how she makes a living have absolutely nothing to do with this story and would have been purely exploitive of Chelsea. Chelsea was “too laid back?” Who are you to say that? I thought she looked nervous, but poised. Would you have rather seen her sobbing and wringing her hands on national TV? She’s had many years to do that. Making a spectacle on TV only to please people like Melody was beneath Chelsea. Thank heavens.

  • Lissa

    I live in Brillion. The facts reported were true. I don’t believe the father of her baby has anything to do with what happened to her back then and is really unimportant to the story unless you are just being nosy.

  • Sandra CC

    Those abusive parents make me vomit- You are scum-
    Chelsea,you are a gem- If I knew I would have treated you like a princess- you deserve the best- you are a sweetheart to me. God bless you.

  • Valerie

    What three year old doesn’t have Oppositional Defiance Disorder??? The journalists who wrote that article should be ashamed and the judge who ruled in this case (whose name was made public so we know who you are)will find himself in the same, horrible place as those parents.

    Shame on you, karma is a bitch…….

  • Mandy

    Please i really feel a connection with her and really would like to be in contact with her? I live in a small town in Wisconsin need someones help in getting me in contact with her.

  • I feel so sorry for Chelsea, She did not need to go thru something like that her parents should pay for what they did to her, that is not the way she should have been treated. How could they do such a thing to her and her brothers .Her parent if u can even call them that. They should have got a ristraning order to never git with in a 100000 yards of her and her family god now what they would do to there grand children. hope your trying to cope with what happen and live a happy life and try to forgit if u ever can.


    i am so so sorry that this happend to you i could never imagine my son is 8 and he has asperger autisim and odd and i would never put him in my basement yes he has his up’s and down’s but i love my baby and i am never going to ever do anything to hurt him we have been threw alot and i do everything to help him you never deserved any of this you’r parent’s need’d to be put away longer and get help there self’s.

    god bless you and good luck in you and you’r son’s life.


  • Somebody get the Mafia

    Seriously. If the judge will not lay down the law like it should have been, then the Mafia and/or other “professionals” need to intervene. And the judge deserves a shitstorm coming his way too.

  • Autumn

    i am only seventeen and i know that all the things she went threw she did not deserve…no child ever deserves to be treated that way. What ever she did they could have just grounded her not torture her…now she has to live with the memories with the rest of her life…also the plarents should have been sentenced longer than a year, they should have got life in prision.A

  • Ladybugs08

    unbelieveable.. only one year in prison too.

  • AL

    This is a good example of judge Winefelt and his poor judgement some people need to know when its time to step down from the bench! I guess if the father had raped the daughter he would have given him 2 years. Or if they had pimped out the kids they would have given them 3 years with 10 years to check in with a PO
    way to go Judge Winefelt you sure showed them how the Court SYS works and how it kicks ass, your a real leader when it comes to the court room! Job well done! NOT

  • hi

    The judge who sentenced the parents to only 1 year needs to be investigated for potential paedo activity. What an absolute nonsense ruling….infact he should be stripped of his position and sent to jail for such a bogus decision. Clearly there is something wrong with him too. I can’t believe how so many child and women abusers (aswell as other vulnerable ppl)get away with so much in this world. This in itself tells you that there has to be immense collusion on the part of the authorities. In this dog case didn’t the girl say that the police torch light shone on her while she was in the cage?! Someone please investigate those moron police officers and arrest them now. All these men make me sick….in the Uk we don’t have the death penalty anymore but for paedos, rapists etc. it should come back, the world is over run by this lunatic element and I for one have had enough of these horrendous crimes.

  • Jack

    She didnt have a mentaldisorder,her parents just lied. this is the worst report, the author obviously didnt read up on the case

  • St.Anne’s

    it’s sad how kids have been abuse and theirs no one to stand up for them…

  • 32cthatsmee

    Its Horrible Hw Adults Do Dis 2Children Especially Their Own Mom&Dad. People Shouldnt Do Dis Sortah Thinqs, Once Hu Do R Just Full Of It.

  • stel

    this is very sad… hurting your own child is not an excuse. my sister had this kind of case when my nephew was the same age as chelsea. she studied his behavior and realized that if the child start to be defensive you have to treat him with love and kindness. she never lift a hand on him and what she did was embrace him and keep on whispering that he was loved, just to keep him calm. the tantrums and oppositional attack will die down. she did this until my nephew was old enough to understand and explain things in a appropriate manner. now he is already 11 years old and turn out to be a very loving person. it is what you instill in a child. i just watched this today because i have nothing to do and chanced this rerun. i googled her and found little information. even it’s already late i feel for chelsea. hope they reinvestigate the case and put appropriate action/sentence to her parents. btw, whatever happened to her brothers, is that confidential as well? god bless to chelsea