SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah mother has been charged with child abuse by authorities who say she locked her 12-year-old son in a filthy bathroom for days, leaving him dangerously malnourished.
The boy’s father found him in the mother’s home Friday night in the tiny city of Toquerville in southern Utah, said Washington County Sheriff’s Office Lt. David Crouse on Tuesday. Authorities found feces throughout the bathroom, one blanket, a few empty cans of beans and a camera that may have been used to capture what was going on in there, Crouse said.
The boy, weighing only 30 pounds, was taken to a hospital where he is expected to remain for weeks to recover, Crouse said.
The 36-year-old woman was charged Monday with felony child abuse.
The Associated Press is not naming her to avoid identifying the boy. Her lawyer did not immediately return a call for comment.
Investigators don’t know exactly how long the boy was in the bathroom but it was likely more than several days, Crouse said. The door had locks on the outside.
The woman’s two other children have been put in custody of state child protective services. Investigators are talking with those kids to determine if they had been abused, Crouse said. He declined to reveal their ages.
The Spectrum newspaper in St. George reports that a probable cause statement shows the mother told detectives her son chose to sleep and stay in the bathroom. She says she would occasionally lock him in the bathroom for his own safety when she left the house.
The statement says the mother said she was trying to feed her son protein shakes to increase his weight.
She is being held on $20,000 bail, and expected to be back in court on Jan. 17.
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