A 38-year-old Florida man and his live-in girlfriend were arrested and placed into jail accused of starving and mistreating the man's 12-year-old son.
According to Central Florida News 13, Michael Marshall and his girlfriend, Sharon Glass, 48, were arrested held without bond after Titusville police found the Marshall's son locked in a bathroom, severely malnourished.
Police had been at the home to investigate a call that indicated child abuse.
Allegedly, the couple had been keeping the boy, who will be 13-years-old next week, inside of a cage placed inside of a closet. Other restraints the couple is accused of using include tying him down to a bed or locking him in the bathroom; media reports say the couple confessed to these actions.
"This occurred over a period of time," said Cpl. Gary Boyers, of the Titusville Police Department. "We're still trying to figure out what the time period is. Something like a couple of months, possibly even longer."
When police found the boy, he weighed just 40 pounds and was being 'punished' for stealing food after it was withheld from him. Local police said hospital staff "compared the child's condition to that of a concentration camp survivor," reported Central Florida News 13, and said he both dehydrated and emaciated.
The Florida Department of Children and Families took custody, although one report says a judge hesitantly granted temporary custody to the grandmother as the father and girlfriend were being charged.
"If the grandmother has ignored these symptoms in the past, I want to make sure that the grandmother is educated on what the child's needs are, so make sure that's accomplished," said the judge, reported WFTV.
Two other younger children reportedly lived in the home, but media reports said it is not clear if the other children were given the same harsh treatment and punishment as the older sibling. The Orlando Sentinel reported, Carrie Hoeppner, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Children and Families said, "No doubt that the younger two have been subjected to mental abuse. All three siblings were victims."
According to WFTV, investigators have said this case is "one of the most disturbing" the area has seen.
"I've never seen kids over there. They have yard sales; I have yard sales they come to. I never even knew kids existed over there ever," WFTV reported neighbor Tina Ray said.
Reportedly, the boy may have been "out of sight"for what might be up to two years. In 2010, there had been allegations of neglect and an investigation had been initiated. It is said it as during this period of time he removed his son from school, presumably to be homeschooled.
Marshall and Glass are charged with three counts of aggravated child abuse for unlawful caging of a child, plus a charge of aggravated child neglect. They remain in the Brevard County Jail.