PRATTVILLE, Ala. – An anonymous 911 call led Alabama investigators to a disturbing case of child abuse Thursday, according to the Autauga County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies responded to a Prattville home to investigate the caller’s claim that a child was being abused, and found a 13-year-old boy naked with chains “padlocked” to his ankles.
“The chains were attached to a door preventing the juvenile from normal movement,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release. “Subsequent investigation revealed that the juvenile had been restrained by this method over a long period of time.”
The boy’s mother, 32-year-old Danielle Nicole Martin; stepfather, 26-year-old Joshua Daniel Martin; and grandmother, 58-year-old Vickie Seale Higginbotham, allegedly forced the child to sleep in a dog crate at night, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. All three were arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse.
During a hearing Monday, Autauga County District Judge Joy Booth asked the boy’s mother if she was on drugs, and Danielle Martin said she was not.
“That fact that you’re not on drugs makes it worse…,” Booth said, according to the paper. “How can you do these things, allow these things to take place, when you are in a lucid, conscious state?”
Danielle Martin replied that she didn’t know what the boy’s grandmother had been doing and claimed she “tried to stop her when she put him in the dog crate.” Joshua Martin also blamed Higginbotham, telling the judge that he wasn’t aware of what was happening because of his long hours.
Higginbotham tried to take the blame, according to the Advertiser, telling the judge that she “didn’t know what to do with the child” and did what was done to her as a girl.
The 13-year-old and two other children found in the home, a 12-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, are now in the custody of the Department of Human Resources.
The three suspects are being held at the Autauga Metro Jail on $30,000 cash bond each.