A Virginia mother and her boyfriend were arrested and charged with child abuse after allegedly tying up the woman’s 7-year-old boy and leaving him in a basement full of cockroaches.
A neighbor called the police after the boy arrived at their house “with obvious injuries,” the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office said.
State police troopers, the Caroline Department of Social Services, and Caroline County Fire & Rescue personnel rushed to the scene and transported the boy to a local hospital.
An investigation uncovered child abuse and led to the arrest of Ashley Karam, 29, and Edward Prince Childs, 40.
They were charged with aggravated malicious wounding, child neglect, child abduction, cruelty, abuse of a child, and failure to secure medical aid for an injured child and were being held without bond.
Lacey Collins, a neighbor, said that it was difficult to even talk about what had happened, noting that she had an inkling that something was wrong earlier this year but she held back from probing.
Sheriff Tony Lippa says the injuries he suffered are the worst he’s seen in his 43 years of law enforcement. https://t.co/NaVryLehQf
— WTVR CBS 6 Richmond (@CBS6) May 22, 2019
“He mentioned that his back hurt, but I never checked him or anything,” she told WTVR, recalling an encounter at the bus stop. “I never knew.”
Law enforcement sources told the broadcaster that the boy would be restrained with duct tape and left at his house surrounded by cockroaches. The basement was also full of mold.
“He didn’t need this. He was so sweet,” added Collins. “His mom would tell me he’s bad, and I was like, ‘He’s not bad,’ ya know?”
Sheriff Tony Lippa said the boy had a number of injuries, including cuts and open wounds. He said it was one of the worst cases of abuse he’s experienced in his career.
“All of the cuts, scratches, bruises, the old injuries the boy had sustained, including open wounds and stuff on this boy, it’s the worst I’ve seen in 43 years,” Lippa told WTVR.
“It’s apparent there was bondage, that’s where the abduction comes into play. It’s one of the, again, most gruesome things I’ve seen and because the charges are pending and it’s still under investigation, I don’t want to describe what that young boy went through.”
Childs has a history of child abuse, authorities said.
Sheriff’s Capt. Scott Moser told the Freelance-Star that the boy appeared to have worked his way out of restraints before fleeing to the neighbor’s house.
Aggravated malicious wounding carries a potential life sentence, the outlet noted.
Other children found at the residence of the accused couple were taken from their care and were being cared for by the Department of Social Services.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Investigator M. J. Humphreys at (804) 633-3497. If people would like to remain anonymous, they can call a tip line at (804) 633-1133 or the Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000. People can also text your information to CRIMES (274637), using the keyword “iTip” or send us a tip online to www.780-1000.com.
— Aaron Thomas (@Aaron8News) May 23, 2019
‘So little reporting’
An expert said that children struggle to open up about being abused.
“When a kid approaches an adult, from a kid’s perspective, a lot of times they’re thinking ‘is this going to upset the adult, is the adult going to treat me like an interruption, is the adult going to take me seriously,” Bob Nickles, a program supervisor with ChildSavers, a group that helps children in Virginia, told WRIC.
He said that community members should keep an eye out for possible abuse.
“Anytime an adult takes time out and stops and listens to that child is deeply empowering and can really be a pivotal moment for any of our kids,” Nickles said.