A 12-year-old boy’s father and stepmother have been arrested in connection with his death, after Indiana authorities said the emaciated boy had been shackled in a motel bathtub and forced to wear a dog shock collar.
“There are no words for this kind of abuse," Monroe County Sheriff’s detective Lt. Jennifer Allen said of the allegations, according to The Indianapolis Star. "Disbelief, horror, shock; you can’t even put it into words.”
The boy’s father, Luis Posso, 32, and stepmother, Dayan Median Flores, 25, are now facing felony counts of neglect in the death of Eduardo Posso.
Authorities say Eduardo, who weighed just 50 to 55 pounds when he died, was restrained in a motel bathtub, shackled and starved to death while the family was in Indiana for work.
Investigators said Posso and Flores had installed a web-based security system and installed a web camera in the bathroom to be able to watch the child while they were away.
Detectives found video footage of Eduardo restrained in the bathtub on the suspect’s phone as well as a “selfie” of Posso and the child in restraints, according to a statement from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
Detectives also discovered a box containing restraints and a dog’s shock collar in the motel room.
“This is beyond anything that I’ve worked with,” Monroe County Sheriff Brad Swain said at a news conference. “I can’t think of, in 30 years, a case like this.”
The couple brought Eduardo to a Bloomington hospital after noticing that he had become unresponsive and had stopped breathing. The boy later died and authorities were called after hospital staff noticed multiple signs of abuse and starvation, WTHI-TV reports.
At the time of his death, Monroe County Coroner Joani Shields said Eduardo had been “severely emaciated.” She appeared emotional as she told the media that he had weighed just 50 to 55 pounds when he died.
The cause of death is still being determined and investigators say the charges against the couple could be upgraded to murder.
Three other children in the couple’s care—a 9-year-old girl, 5-year-old boy and 2-year-old boy—appeared to be healthy. They have been placed in the custody of child protective services.
“I’m sure this will be with those children for the rest of their lives,” Swain said, according to WTTV.
The sheriff’s office said the family had been in town because of Posso and Flores’ employment, handing out advertising for a circus.
Allen said the couple allegedly told police that Eduardo had acted up more than the other children.
Investigators say Posso admitted to physically abusing the child but denied that he withheld food from his son.
They are being held at the Monroe County Correctional Center.
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