Deputies responded to a home in Prattville, Alabama, on Thursday to investigate an anonymous tip reporting child abuse, and discovered a “disturbing” scene, authorities said.
There was a naked 13-year-old boy in the home who had chains padlocked around his ankles, according to the Autauga County Sheriff’s Office. The chains restrained the boy and kept him tied to a door, which was “preventing the juvenile from normal movement,” deputies said.
Investigators learned that the boy had been restrained with chains “over a long period of time,” the sheriff’s office said.
The boy’s mother, 32-year-old Danielle Martin, his stepfather, 26-year-old Joshua Martin, and his grandmother, 58-year-old Vickie Higginbotham, were arrested and are being held at the Autauga Metro Jail on $15,000 cash bond per person, deputies said.
Each faces charges of torture or willful abuse of a child under 18, and deputies said more charges could be coming.
The boy was taken from the home, and so were two other children, ages 12 and 5, according to the sheriff’s office.
Investigators said the boy who had been chained spoke with deputies and was congenial.
“I walked through the door less than five minutes after the deputies got there,” said investigator Stephen Geon, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. “He was fun loving and talking to us. He’s a sweet kid.”
Sheriff Joe Sedinger — who called the case “disturbing” — praised the person who called in with the anonymous tip, the Advertiser reports.
“It’s our understanding that these children are home schooled, so they likely didn’t have the contact outside the home that other children would have,” Sedinger said, according to the newspaper. “So it made it more difficult for a situation like this to be found out.”
Court records said the mother and grandmother told authorities the boy was chained up the night before for kicking his 5-year-old brother, who didn’t appear injured, AL.com reports.