Susan “Genie” Wiley



Susan Wiley is more famously known as “Genie.” She suffered some of the worst child abuse recorded in the history of the United States. Held captive in a bedroom, her cruel father deprived her of all social stimulation, before she was thrust into the public spotlight, and under the gaze of researchers and academics.

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Susan Wiley

Susan “Genie” Wiley

Susan’s father, Clark Wiley, came from a dysfunctional background. He was teased relentlessly while growing up because he was given the same birth name as his mother, Pearl Wiley. Raised by a mother who managed a bordello, Clark discovered her with clients. His father was killed when struck by lightning.

Clark worked as an aircraft mechanic, and married Dorothy “Irene” Oglesby in 1944. He was 20 years older than his wife and he never wanted children. Clark suffered mental instability, while Irene was partially blind. Their marriage was littered with domestic violence, which would see Irene hospitalised. They would have four children, but not all would survive.

Their first child, Dorothy Irene Wiley, was born on June 2, 1948, and named after her mother. When Dorothy was around 10-weeks old, Clark wrapped the crying infant in a blanket and placed her in a dresser drawer in the garage, resulting in her death.

Their second child, Robert Clark Wiley, was born a year later on September 15, 1949. He died two days later, it was reported he choked on his own mucus. It has been suspected that Clark caused his son’s death.

John Gray Wiley, their third child, was born on March 11, 1952. At four years of age he went to live with his grandmother, Pearl Martin, after mother Irene was institutionalised. At age six, Pearl took John out for an ice cream. In a hit-and-run, she was struck by a pick-up truck and killed. John returned to live with his parents. Clark blamed his son for his mother’s death.



Clark, Irene and baby John Wiley

Pearl with her grandson John Wiley
Pearl with her grandson John Wiley

The family moved into Pearl’s small two-bedroom house at 6722 North Golden West Avenue, Temple City, Los Angeles, California. (The property is located two houses from the town line — situated just inside Temple City — but is often listed with an Arcadia postal address.) Clark’s mother’s bedroom remained untouched, left as a shrine.

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Susan M., was the fourth of the Wiley children, was born on April 18, 1957.

Held Captive

In late 1958, when Susan was 20 months old, a doctor told her father the girl was mildly retarded and should be protected from the world. Clark Wiley took this to the extreme, locking her in the remaining bedroom of the house. For years Clark slept in an armchair in the living room, with a gun on his lap, as Irene slept at the dining table, and John slept on the floor. Clark rarely allowed the family to leave and forced them to live in the darkened house, with the blinds constantly drawn.


The Wiley House

Susan spent her time strapped to a potty chair, often overnight. She was housed in a cot, caged in with chicken wire. She was restrained in a homemade straightjacket sown by Irene, and slept tied up in a tattered sleeping bag. When Susan made a noise she was beaten, barked or growled at by her father. Her mother, Irene, and brother, John, also suffered punishments at the hands of Clark; he often treated them violently, or threatened them with his gun collection. No one was allowed to visit or talk to Susan, who remained trapped in a dingy room, with the windows covered in foil.

Fed on a diet of pablum (a processed cereal for infants’ that contains vitamin D) and soft foods, Susan never learned to chew solids. She suffered from malnutrition and her body failed to grow at an average rate.

In his armchair, Clark rested with a gun across his lap, leaving Irene and John in a constant state of fear. John attended school, keeping the family secret, avoiding gym classes because of his bruised and swollen genitalia, a result of being regularly beaten by his father with a wooden plank. Clark beat Susan with the same plank.

Susan learned only limited words, such as “stop it” and “no more,” basic phrases to protest her father’s atrocities.

Neighbours thought the Wiley family were “strange people who kept to themselves.”  Others claimed they saw the girl sitting on the porch, while most claimed to know nothing of Susan’s existence.

John ran away at 18 years of age to escape his father. Irene soon did the same and fled to her mother’s house with Susan. Susan had been held captive for 12 years.


Irene left her mother’s house in Monterey Park on November 4, 1970, intending to visit the Temple City welfare office to seek blind assistance payments. However, she accidently attended the County Department of Public Social Services, where a welfare worker noticed something wasn’t right with Susan. She moved with a “bunny walk,” her legs deformed from being strapped to the potty. She looked around eight years old, she could not speak, her hands extended claw-like, and she still wore diapers.

Irene Wiley applied for welfare and a worker attended her home. The worker enquired about Susan’s age and discovered the girl was 13-years-old. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was contacted.

The FULL ARTICLE for the Susan “Genie Wiley case can be found in the FREE sample of the Captive Humans book on Amazon, along with other cases

By David Phoebe


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  1. Anthony Wurthmann

    I would love to be allowed to email/call Susan.
    I was born in 1950

    1. Dennis Weatherly

      You must be daft! Don’t you know this story buddy?? Susan does not talk or write! Get a clue and READ!!

      1. Jack Monterery

        We’ll you didn’t have to be a jerk about it …

      2. Zachary

        Dennis Weatherly, Susan is now around 60 years old. She was 13 when she was rescued. That would mean she was rescued about 47 years ago.

      3. D.B. Cooper

        This guy… LOL! I agree with Dennis, get a clue and go find someone else to have a conversation with about being born in 1950.

      4. Canada Mills

        Excuse me but you don’t have to be rude. For your information, Susan is now living in an adult home in California, and is able of some speech and writing capabilities. While I don’t think it’s possible to contact her, this is a valid question.

      5. j

        And she deserves to be left alone, not treating like a sideshow exhibit. Have a heart.

      6. Isiah Thomas

        That is awfully rude Dennis Weatherly. No need to be a douche about it.

    2. Patrick

      From more recent stories she signs more than she talks and i don’t know why you would really want to meet her unless your interested in trying to study her. In reality she is getting older and lives in a home for under developed adults. She never truly learned human interaction at a meaningful level and sadly she doesn’t have any family that visits her. Her actual location is kept secret to keep the public from bothering her. Even the doctors who used to care for her do not know where she really is.

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    Genie was born in 1957, and only 20 months old when her father Clark Wiley who, thinking she was mentally retarded, locked her up in one of the family s bedrooms. The room was located at the back of the house. The windows were covered with aluminum foil to keep the sunlight and nosy neighbors out, and the only furnishings consisted of a cage with a chicken-wire lid and a child s potty chair.

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    Genie was born in 1957, and only 20 months old when her father Clark Wiley who, thinking she was mentally retarded, locked her up in one of the family s bedrooms. The room was located at the back of the house. The windows were covered with aluminum foil to keep the sunlight and nosy neighbors out, and the only furnishings consisted of a cage with a chicken-wire lid and a child s potty chair.

  5. Alyssa

    this is so sad and horrific how do you do this to a child?

  6. Bob

    first of all Susan knows sign languages and talk by using her hands. Second, Susan doesn’t live alone, so if Anthony wants to send her nice words, friendship and solidarity, someone will “translate” that for her. Be kind, please.

    Robert, Europe

  7. Stanley

    Thank you ever so for you blog.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

  8. Sarah ruff

    Don’t be rude Mr. Dennis! Haven’t you read anything else about genie besides this one article???! She learned to sign and speak and articulate in all types of ways.

  9. Jack Reacher

    Hey Dennis Weatherly, there is no need to be rude about it. I think it would be of your utmost interest to write an apology back to Anthony Wurthmann.

  10. Kristin Strickland

    I don’t understand why no one is allowed to know where Susan is today. With her story known, I think so many people would love to visit her and shower her with love.

  1. Critical Period for Language Acquisition | Communicating Science 2016T2 Section 211

    […] period to be different in everyone if it does exist at all? Genie, also known as the Wild Child, emerged from isolation after puberty with no linguistic performance and was said to have the mental […]

  2. Child development – Cognitive Research

    […] Phoebe, D, ‘Captive Humans’ viewed 25th May <http://captivehumans.com/susan-wiley/&gt; […]

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