Two parents in Missouri are facing child abuse charges after authorities say their 12-year-old son escaped from their abusive home and told police his father had been handcuffing him to his bed every night for two months.
The boy's father, Christopher Crets, 40, and his stepmother Nicole Crets, 33, were arrested on May 2 after authorities found the boy walking down a highway with "severe bruising on his face, torso, legs and arms," according to a police report obtained by NBC affiliate KSDK.
Both parents had been "whooping him with a leather belt," the boy said, according to police. The parents told police they've been handcuffing the boy to the bed to prevent the him from “sneaking” food and candy because he has a medical condition.
“There is nothing a child could ever do to justify this," Warren County Sheriff Kevin Harrison told KSDK. "It breaks my heart because this child is being handcuffed in his own home, and he's being not just abused, but tortured by his parents."
The boy said he was able to escape from the house because they forgot to handcuff him that day, according to police.
Detectives who searched the parents' house before they were arrested found the handcuffs attached to the bed just like the boy had described, Harrison told KSDK.
The boy told police he once weighed 115 to 120 pounds. When authorities found him, he was 74 pounds. The boy was diagnosed with refeeding syndrome — a metabolic condition that can cause seizures, heart failure, fatigue and confusion due to starvation — after authorities took him to the hospital.
At least two other young children lived at the residence. Harrison said they didn't show any signs of abuse but they were removed from the home and placed in the care of others.
Both parents were charged with felony child abuse on May 3. Christopher Crets is also facing additional charges that include kidnapping and four counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. They're both due in court on May 27.