An Alabama mother, her husband, and her mother are facing criminal charges after police allegedly found her 13-year-old son chained, stripped naked, and living in a dog crate.
Per AL.com, the Autauga County Sheriff’s Office got involved Thursday after an anonymous caller claimed a child living in a Prattville home was being chained and abused. Police said the tip led them to a teen boy with chains around his ankles; the chains were attached to a door to further hinder his movement.
The startling discovery resulted in the arrests of the victim’s mother, Danielle Nicole Martin, 32, stepfather, Joshua Daniel Martin, 26, and grandmother, Vickie Seale Higginbotham, 58. The victim and two other children, ages 12 and 5 were removed from the home. The 13-year-old is reportedly being treated for malnutrition.
The trio was initially charged with aggravated child abuse. However, the Montgomery Advertiser reported that additional charges are forthcoming as a Monday court hearing revealed that the 13-year-old was forced to stay in a closet-like room during the day and sleep in a dog crate at night.
Autauga County District Judge Joy Booth said the couple blamed the grandmother for the abuse. Joshua claimed he wasn’t aware of the abuse because he would get up early for work and not return home until late, according to the newspaper.
Higginbotham reportedly went on to take sole responsibility for chaining her grandson. Despite this, documents obtained by AL.com stated that Higginbotham and Danielle Martin admitted to restraining the child the previous night for kicking his 5-year-old brother.
On this instance, the victim was reportedly shackled for 18 hours—something the chief assistant district attorney said wasn’t uncommon.
“They didn’t know that I chained the child to the bed at night,” Higginbotham told Booth. “Danielle and Josh had nothing to do with this. I would never harm a child on purpose. I made a mistake.”
The Alabama trio remains jailed on $30,000 bond each.
[Featured image: Danielle Nicole Martin, Vickie Seale Higginbotham, and Joshua Daniel Martin/Autauga County Sheriff’s Office]