GUTHRIE, Okla. - An anonymous tip to Logan County authorities leads them to discover a seven-year-old boy, handcuffed inside his Guthrie home, allegedly by his mother and stepfather. 36-year-old Tonya Obrien and her husband, 37-year-old Thomas Obrien, pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon to charges of child neglect at the Logan County courthouse.
Sheriff's officials say the couple told them they were trying to keep the boy from stealing items, including food, at school and home.
According to court documents, the child was handcuffed behind his back at night and handcuffed to a rail, next to a stairwell, during the day. They said putting handcuffs on the boy would teach him a lesson.
The alleged incident happened June 23rd and 24th. Logan County Sheriff's Capt. Richard Stephens said the child wasn't able to use the bathroom at night and could have been seriously injured because he wasn't able to protect himself.
"How often has your child fallen out of bed?" Capt. Stephens said Monday. "Without the ability to use their arms to break their fall, they're going to hit their head. They're going to fall against something. They're going to possibly fall on their belly and not be able to turn back over. Clearly there's hazards just from that, aside from the fact that he had been handcuffed in his bed all night."
A family member told NewsChannel 4 the boy, who officials say was found dirty and starving, is now in DHS custody. Both suspects will be back in court in late September.
They're facing up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Their attorney had no comment.