KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – A Kansas City couple charged with child abuse Tuesday told authorities they handcuffed the husband’s malnourished teenage son to a basement pole because he was bipolar and they had run out of options in handling him, court documents said.
Police went to the home Feb. 4 after a neighbor called social services. They found the 17-year-old boy locked to a steel pole in the dark basement. He was curled in a fetal position, shivering on the cold, concrete floor and weighed only 103 pounds, according to a probable cause statement.
The teen’s father, David Martin, 42, and stepmother, Pamela Martin, 41, were charged in Clay County Circuit Court with child abuse and felonious restraint. Bond was set at $50,000. Jim Roberts, a spokesman for the Clay County prosecutor’s office, said he didn’t know whether the couple had attorneys.
The boy told investigators he had been kept in the basement since his father took him out of school in late September. Initially, he was just locked in but later he was handcuffed to a bed rail. The teen said in November, after the second time he tried to escape for food, he was handcuffed to the steel support pole. He was allowed to shower once every four weeks, the probable cause statement said.
The teen said he was fed oatmeal each morning, a pack of noodles during the day and bologna sandwiches at night. His weight dropped from 130 pounds to 103 pounds, and he had sores on both wrists, according to the probable cause statement.
A Kansas City police officer who responded to the home wrote in a police report that the teen repeated, “I didn’t do anything” several times when officers entered the basement. The teen was wearing dirty clothes and had only a few thin blankets to keep warm, he said.
The Martins told authorities the boy is bipolar and has attention deficit disorder, according to the probable cause statement. David Martin said they hadn’t been able to afford the teen’s medication and had run out of solutions to help him. David Martin said he needed to keep his son within reach and the handcuffing had lasted only three weeks.
Pamela Martin told authorities that the boy was moved into the basement in September, when her son and his child moved into the couple’s home. She said they began using handcuffs to restrain the teen in December so he wouldn’t sneak food or leave the home. She said her stepson was allowed to eat dinner with the family and returned to the basement at bedtime. She said she didn’t remove the handcuffs because the teen was “verbally abusive and would try to kick her.”
Juvenile court officer Alan Gremli said previously that the boy has been placed with a foster family and enrolled in school.
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