A western Pennsylvania couple forced their children to sleep in locked basement rooms, physically abused them and handcuffed them, authorities said.
Richard Hayes, 37, of Mount Oliver, and his girlfriend, 26-year-old Natosha Bell, of Rankin, both face more than a dozen charges involving three children who lived in their home. It wasn't known Friday if either one retained an attorney.
Authorities said White Oak police responded to an elementary school Wednesday after the eldest child refused to get into the couple's vehicle during a school pick up. The 11-year-old boy clung to a school employee and said he didn’t want to be handcuffed again, witnesses said.
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When Hayes opened the side door of the vehicle to try to force the child in the vehicle, authorities said the employee looked inside and saw two younger boys — ages 7 and 10 — handcuffed in the back seat.
Responding Allegheny police officers detained Bell and Hayes, the latter of whom had a loaded handgun, authorities said. Hayes is the father of the two older boys, while Bell is the mother of the two younger boys.
The boys told authorities they were often locked in a small room called “the hole,” which police discovered to be an empty coal cellar with no lights, no water, and a concrete floor, according to a criminal complaint. Each child told of being locked in “the hole” for days at a time, authorities said.
The children also said they had been physically abused by Hayes and Bell. The abuse included beatings and in one instance, forcing a boy’s head under water in the tub, authorities said.
Hayes and Bell both face 14 charges, including aggravated assault, unlawful restraint of a minor, false imprisonment of a minor and child endangerment. Hayes is also charged with possessing a weapon on school property.