A Pennsylvania couple is behind bars after allegedly forcing their 7-year-old son to sleep inside a locked coffin and often punishing him by placing him in their bug-infested, nearly pitch-black basement after warning him about ghosts, The Times-Tribune reported.
Scranton police, after being alerted by neighbors about the crying child, found the boy in the basement of the condemned home, the paper reported. He was visibly upset and was dressed in a school shirt and diaper, police said.
The couple turned themselves in Tuesday afternoon. It's not clear if they have an attorney.
The mother, Lori Gardner, 26, and stepfather, Brian Sleboda, 31, each face felony counts of endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful restraint.
The boy, when found, apparently had not eaten dinner and asked the police if they had come to help him. He went on to describe to police nightmarish living conditions.
He told police he had been locked inside a home-made wooden coffin, and the couple would “often” punish him by putting him in the dark basement right after telling him that ghosts live there, the Times-Tribune reported. The couple then would “pick up chains and drop them to scare him,” the paper reported.
The child told police he sometimes was locked in the basement the whole day, police said, and he had to wear the diaper because there is no working bathroom in the basement.
Gardner reportedly denied claims that the boy was locked in their basement but admitted that he was put there for punishment.