OKLAHOMA CITY – A 14-year-old Oklahoma boy was tied up for more than four years and locked in a bedroom closet where his mother and a male companion starved, beat and burned him repeatedly, authorities say.
Oklahoma City police Sgt. Gary Knight said Tuesday that investigators still are interviewing people and examining physical evidence in the case against the boy's mother, 37-year-old LaRhonda Marie McCall, and her companion, Steve Vern Hamilton, 38.
Knight said there is no reason to doubt the boy's claims. He said the teen frequently was tied up and his mother had a lock installed on the bedroom closet where the child was kept.
McCall and Hamilton are behind bars on 20 complaints each of child abuse and neglect, which the boy said went on for about four-and-a-half years. Formal charges haven't yet been filed.
Police began their investigation Friday after the boy told authorities he escaped from his home.
A security guard at a National Guard facility in Oklahoma City called police after the teen showed up malnourished and with multiple scars and other signs of abuse, Knight said.
"He was hungry. He was dirty," Knight said on Monday. "He had numerous scars on his body. It was very sad." He said the boy also had been burned.
The boy was taken to a hospital to be examined and then turned over to the custody of the Department of Human Services, Knight said.
After police interviews, officers arrested McCall and Hamilton on Saturday. Both are being held on $400,000 bond.
A police report listed McCall as a pharmaceutical company employee and Hamilton as a cab driver.
The teen, wearing only a pair of oversized shorts held up by a belt, walked up to a security guard at the Guard facility at around 5 p.m. Friday and asked where a police station was located so he could report being abused, according to a police report.
He told police that scars on his stomach and torso were from where alcohol had been poured on him and set on fire. He said other scars were from being tied up, hit with an extension cord and choked.
"He had scars covering most of his body," Knight said. "They were basically from head to foot."
The teen told police he moved to the Oklahoma City area from New Jersey about 4 1/2 years ago after his mother was released from jail. Since arriving in Oklahoma, he said, he had never been to school and spent most of his time locked in a bedroom closet.
He told police the closet door was mostly blocked with a stepladder or a bed and that he managed to push the door open enough to escape and leave the house.
Knight said six other children living at the home were taken into DHS custody, but none showed signs of abuse. McCall had lived at several different addresses in the Oklahoma City area, he said.
A DHS spokeswoman said she could not discuss specific cases, but generally an investigation would be conducted before any of the children are returned to the home or placed with other family members.
"There may be family members, but we do a diligent search, and we're very careful about placing kids in a safe environment," DHS spokeswoman Beth Scott said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.