Neighbor who reported abuse of handcuffed teen speaks

CLAY COUNTY, Mo. — The parents of a 17-year-old boy face felony charges after admitting they handcuffed him to a pole in the basement of their Northland home.

David Martin and Pamela Martin were charged Tuesday in a Clay County court. Each face charges of illegally restraining the teenager and for child abuse. They’re expected to appear before a judge on Wednesday.

Crystal Anderson lives next to the Martins. As she looked over court documents describing what took place inside her neighbor’s home, she says she’s glad the teenager’s father and step-mom are now behind bars.

“I’m happy,” she said. “I didn’t think — I thought they would get away with it.”

Anderson is the one who suspected abuse and reported it after she saw the boy handcuffed to the basement door. She had been told he wasn’t living there anymore.

When police found the boy, he had bruises on his wrists. Police said he was thin and his clothes were dirty. According to court documents, the Martins admitted to handcuffing the boy in the basement after he’d tried to escape and sneak food. They claim it went on for about three weeks. The boy told police it as more like three months.

The Martin’s told police they did it because the boy is bi-polar and has Attention Deficit Disorder and they could no longer afford his medication. They claimed he’d attacked his step-mom and was a danger to himself and others.

“I don’t think that’s any excuse because people can help you,” Anderson said.

Susan Crane Lewis with Mental Health Association of the Heartland agrees. She said if the boy had mental health struggles, the parents just had to ask for help. All anyone in the metro needs to do is call 211.

“[Calling 2-1-1 would have connected them to us and help them figure out what your kid is eligible for in terms of services,” Lewis said. “Get you to the right place, help you find assistance with prescriptions if that’s what you need, help parents find some support.”

Anderson hopes one of the lessons from all this is that people should call police or the child abuse hotline if they suspect any child abuse.

“That’s the main thing,” Anderson said. “I think about how much longer would they have kept him in the basement because they were just telling everyone he’d moved. No one else would have known if I hadn’t gone over there and seen for myself.

Anderson said she’s since spoken with the boy and said he’s doing well. She said he’s excited to go back to school and see his friends.

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