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OGDEN — A Roy couple accused of cruelly binding three boys they adopted and locking them in their rooms for hours at a time has pleaded guilty to child abuse.
Matthew Earl Waldmiller, 39, and his wife, Diane Seifert Waldmiller, 40, pleaded guilty Aug. 3 to a single count each of child abuse, a second-degree felony.
The charge carries a potential maximum sentence of one to 15 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 29.
The Waldmillers were each originally charged in 2nd District Court with three counts each of second-degree felony child abuse, one for each boy. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to include allegations covering all three boys in a single charge, while the remaining two counts were dismissed.
The couple was licensed to provide foster care and had adopted the three boys, ages 11, 10 and 7. They have been held without bail in the Weber County Jail since their arrest March 24.
After being interviewed by police, the Waldmillers said they had locked all three boys in their bedroom for numerous hours without breaks, tied all three children’s wrists with zip ties and sometimes behind their backs, covered their faces with duct tape so only their noses were exposed, and caused possible hair loss by pulling the duct tape off, the charges state.
A representative with the Utah Division of Child and Family Services declined to give any updates about the boys' current health or custody.
A DCFS caseworker visited the Waldmiller home, near 5800 South and 2400 West in Roy, on March 17 after receiving a complaint. The caseworker noted that the boys' room had no light fixture, the window was painted black and screwed shut, and the heater vent had been covered, according to charging documents. The bedroom door locked from the outside.
The children told the DCFS employee that "they are locked in the room nightly, with hands secured with zip ties, faces taped with tape, and the 7- and 10-year-old (wore diapers). The children further disclosed that they have to exit through their window to 'dumpster dive' at a local elementary to get food," according to charging documents.
The 7-year-old later told police that the couple had placed tape over his eyes, mouth and hands an estimated 300 times, and that his hands had been zip tied on his wrists like handcuffs, while his brothers had their hands zip tied behind their backs, according to charging documents.
The 10-year-old told investigators that he "has to perform physical exercises to earn food and to read," and that he had to sneak out of the house to get food, according to charging documents. If he cried, he told police that his clothes were taken away and thrown out.
The 11-year-old told police he and his brothers were given "night pills" to sleep and had been hit on the buttocks with a piece of wood, and that Diane Waldmiller would hit his nose, causing it to bleed, charges state. He also reported he had been caught "dumpster diving" once and was "forced by his father to eat rice with cayenne and salt on it as punishment," then wasn't allowed to drink water. The boy told police he had been hogtied and put in a suitcase, according to the charges.
The three boys were examined by medical personnel who found various injuries, such as ligature marks, edema on one boy's legs, and various bumps, bruises, "pressure sores" on one boy's hands. All three boys were underweight and had bald spots on their scalps, according to the charging documents.
The Waldmillers had been licensed as foster care providers since August 2013. At the time of their arrests, they were in good standing with no agency actions against them.
According to their Facebook pages, the couple adopted three boys in October 2015, and they were fostering a 2-year-old girl when they were arrested. There is no evidence the girl suffered any abuse, according to police.