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There are cases of hellish abuse – and then there was Jed.

Born to severely mentally ill parents, he was found in rural Robeson County, N.C., at age 3, emaciated and chained to a bed, eating from a dog bowl on the floor. Child protective services tried to place him in foster homes – some good and others troubled – but the traumatized youngster stole, attacked his foster parents and ran away.

“One time Jed came to my office, crying and said, ‘Won’t I ever have a family? Won’t anybody ever love me?’ ” says Denise Little, a social worker, who worked with Jed for years.

By the time he was 13, Jed had cycled through 29 families, including four who had initially wanted to adopt him. After his 14th birthday, therapists at the Alexander Youth Network (AYN), the Charlotte, N.C., treatment center where Jed had stayed on and off since he was 8, reluctantly concluded there was no more they could do for him and he was transferred to a mental institution.

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