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TOQUERVILLE, Washington County — Using words such as "torture chamber" and "prison" to describe the conditions, Washington County Sheriff's Lt. David Crouse said Tuesday it was the worst case of child abuse he's ever seen.
"I've seen the pictures. They're horrific," he said. "I've seen other horrible things, but this is one of those things I'll never forget. I wish I could unsee it."
Crouse said a 12-year-old boy was locked in a bathroom for "at a minimum … a year, possibly two," and weighed just 30 pounds when he was taken to a hospital.
The doctor who treated the boy at Dixie Regional Medical Center called it "the worst case of malnutrition he has seen," according to a Washington County Jail report.
The boy's mother, Brandy K. Jaynes, 36, of Toquerville, was charged Monday in 5th District Court with child abuse causing serious injury, a second-degree felony. Investigators say the investigation is ongoing and additional charges may be screened.
Washington County sheriff's deputies were called to Dixie Regional Medical Center on Sunday on a report of a malnourished child brought to the hospital by his father, who had found the boy locked in a bathroom, the report states.
"He said he found his son laying on the floor of the bathroom with a blanket," according to the report.
When investigators from the Washington County Sheriff's Office went to the house with a search warrant, they found "what appeared to be feces all over the (bathroom) floor," the report states. "The toilet bowl was full of feces to the point that you could not see any water, but the bowl was half full of feces."
A few empty cans of beans and a spoon were found in the shower, and the drain in the shower was covered with duct tape, according to the report.
"The door to the bathroom … (had) two latches on the exterior as to lock the door from the outside," the report states.
Crouse said a video camera was set up so the mother could monitor the boy on her cellphone, and a baby monitor was set up so she could give him instructions but he could not reply.
The lights were duct taped in the off position, so the boy likely sat in the dark the entire time, Crouse said. He was so weak when he was found that he wouldn't have been able to stand up and take the duct tape off on his own, he said.
"The victim's mother stated her son wanted to sleep in this bathroom. She stated she would occasionally lock her son in the bathroom for his safety when she would leave the house. She also stated she was attempting to feed her son protein drinks to get his weight up," the report states.
Doctors told investigators they expect the boy to be hospitalized for three weeks before he regains his strength.
The biggest unanswered questions for investigators Tuesday were why the abuse happened and how such a horrific case could go unreported for so long.
The boy was pulled out of school three years ago, Crouse said. His two siblings still went to school but did not tell anyone what was happening. It was not known Tuesday how much the siblings knew about what was happening. One told detectives that the last conversation with the brother was more than six months ago, Crouse said.
The two siblings are healthy and did not show signs of abuse, he said.
Detectives were also trying to figure out the situation with the father. Crouse said he and Jaynes were married but separated. He did not know Tuesday whether the father lived in the house or the last time he saw his son prior to Sunday.
Crouse said he was not aware of any special needs the boy had prior to his abuse, but that was still being investigated.