Okla. mom charged with locking son in closets

Child Imprisoned
LaRhonda Marie McCall was being held Thursday in the Oklahoma County jail on $400,000 bond.AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The mother of a 14-year-old Oklahoma boy who says he was locked away in apartment closets over four years was charged Thursday with 29 counts of child abuse for allegedly torturing and imprisoning the teen.

Prosecutors allege LaRhonda McCall, 37, and her friend, Steve Vern Hamilton, 38, beat the boy repeatedly — with "fists, bike chains, cables, extension cords, and/or boards," leaving permanent scars. Hamilton is charged with 24 counts of child abuse.

The charges also allege McCall tortured her son in various ways, including by tying him naked to a ladder and pouring sugar water over him to attract insects. Another time, the charges allege, she poured alcohol on him and lit it on fire, burning the boy. She also allegedly forced him to stand barefoot in the snow for more than 45 minutes.

McCall and Hamilton were being held in the Oklahoma County jail on $400,000 bond each. Jailers and the prosecutor's office did not know if either McCall or Hamilton had an attorney yet, and charging documents did not list lawyers for them.

Oklahoma County First Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland declined to comment on the charges.

The boy, malnourished and covered in bruises and scars, sought help from a security guard at a National Guard armory on Sept. 25. The teen told police he spent most of the last 4 1/2 years locked inside bedroom closets at various apartments where the family lived and never attended school or received medical attention, authorities said.

The boy's 18-year-old sister, Jaleasa McCall, told The Associated Press last month that she would bring her brother food and sympathy, but didn't have the courage to contact the authorities.

The boy and his six younger siblings have been placed in Department of Human Services custody.

Managers of the last two apartment complexes where the family most recently lived said they occasionally saw some of McCall's seven other children but never saw the teenage boy.

McCall was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in New York in 1996 in the death of her 2-year-old daughter and served six months jail time. Prosecutors in that case alleged McCall, who then went by LaRhonda Presley, essentially starved the toddler who died in February 1995, according to a New York grand jury indictment obtained by the AP.

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