updated 6/13/2008 11:56:02 AM ET 2008-06-13T15:56:02

A couple accused of tying their 13-year-old son to a tree for two nights to punish him for disobedience has been charged with murder in his death, authorities said Friday.

Brice Brian McMillan, 41, of Macclesfield, told a deputy that the child was being disobedient and was forced to sleep outside Tuesday while tied to a tree, the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office said. The teenager was released Wednesday morning but again tied up that night for bad behavior, authorities said.

The boy was left tied to the tree until the following afternoon when his stepmother found him unresponsive, Sheriff James Knight said in a statement.

Dwight Jefferson, an emergency responder with Pinetops Rescue Squad who was first on the scene, said he did not know the cause of the child’s death.

“What we found was a 13-year-old laying on the ground — CPR being done by his father,” Jefferson said. “Then we took over.”

Knight said the boy was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

It wasn’t immediately clear what the couple used to allegedly tie up the boy.

McMillan and Sandra Elizabeth McMillan, 36, also have been charged with felony child abuse. Two other children at the home, ages 7 and 9, have been placed in the custody of the Department of Social Services, authorities said.

They are being held in the Edgecombe County Detention Center under no bond. The sheriff’s office said they did not know if the couple had an attorney.

Macclesfield is about 20 miles southeast of Rocky Mount.

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