Jerry Robertson of the Bloomington Police Department was skeptical when he heard that a 7-year-old boy was being subjected to unusual disciplinary measures at home.
Only when the detective went to the home did he become convinced that the boy and his 8-year-old sister were telling the truth about him being handcuffed -- sometimes overnight -- as punishment for such things as stealing bread or playing with matches.
Robertson said the heavy steel cuffs ("the same kind used by police") belong to siblings Richard C. Underwood
, 49, and Quinette M. Underwood
, 46, who are uncle and aunt, respectively, to the children. Quinette Underwood was identified as their legal guardian.
The children are accusing the Underwoods of handcuffing the boy to a variety of objects in the home and out in the garage
. The children indicated that the handcuffing might have gone on for seven months or more
, and occurred as recently as July 21, according to the criminal complaint.
According to the criminal complaint, the investigation began on July 17 when the girl told a summer school teacher that the Underwoods had punished her brother by handcuffing him to a weight machine
. The teacher reported the information to child protective services and police.
Later, the girl said her brother also was handcuffed to a table in the living room where the children sleep
Once, the girl said, her handcuffed brother wet his pants because no one released him to go to the bathroom. Another time, his handcuffs were so tight that his wrists bled
, the boy told the police.
Quinette Underwood initially denied that there were handcuffs in the house, saying that the children owned "plastic play handcuffs." But Robertson said the children insisted the cuffs were real and even told him where to look for them, in a dresser drawer.
At that point Quinette Underwood showed Robertson the handcuffs. He said she eventually admitted handcuffing the boy once to discipline him
. Richard Underwood told investigators that "someone" in the household had handcuffed the boy to a table and that he had released the boy so he could use the toilet.