A US couple allegedly tied their 16-year-old foster son to a bed and starved him until he weighed less than six stone.
Jennifer and Richard Ryan have been charged with first-degree kidnapping and neglecting a dependent person.
Authorities said the boy with special needs weighed only 78 pounds – just over five-and-a-half stone – when he was found after being seen reportedly strapped to a chair at a car repair shop where she worked.
His foot was allegedly deformed by having to wear shoes that were too small for him and a number of cuts and bruises were found on his face and head.
It was alleged he was regularly hit in the face with a wooden back scratcher and that he was injured by being thrown to the floor.
An alarm was installed at their home to alert the couple if he left his room which did not have a bathroom and he was cruelly punished if he urinated in his bed, according to court filings.
Mrs Ryan, 48, and her 47-year-old husband are accused of abusing and neglecting the teenager in Iowa, the Mirror reports.
The couple allegedly would only give the teenager lunch and dinner, made up of leftovers, and he would be deprived of any meals if he was found to have stashed food in his room.
Court documents stated: “He also endured physical abuse often being struck in the face or on the head with a wooden back scratcher or repeatedly thrown to the floor."
Mum who left baby to starve to death ‘had abandoned daughter 11 times before’
Neighbours told TV network KCCI they believed that he was 11 because he was so small.
The Ryans began looking after him when he was seven after his mum Shelly Green lost custody of him, KCCI reports, and they formally adopted the youngster in 2012.
Ms Green said she had tried to regain custody of her son, who she had not seen in a decade.
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She told the network: “I felt sick to my stomach ever since I heard the news.”
Julie Reben, the boy's grandmother, said: “They should go to prison forever. You take an oath. I was a foster parent for 10 years. I never would have dreamed of hurting a child.”
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