EAGLE MOUNTAIN — A mother and father were arrested after being accused of locking their adopted son in a windowless basement bedroom without light or access to food or a bathroom, officials said Thursday.
Brett Parker Tobiasson, 31, and Clarissa Anne Tobiasson, 27, of Eagle Mountain, were booked into Utah County Jail Thursday for investigation of child abuse.
The couple’s arrests came after several months of investigation. Utah Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) employees interviewed witnesses and the child involved, according to a statement from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
“Some of the witnesses we’ve spoken to had been in the home and had saw some things that caused them concern,” Utah County Sheriff Sgt. Spencer Cannon said.
The witnesses contacted DCFS, who began their investigation and notified the sheriff’s office a few weeks ago. Cannon said the boy, as well as two other children, were taken from the parents in June.
Cannon said the alleged abuse might have been happening for “at least several months.”
"We are still investigating; trying to find out how long this has been going on," he said.
The Tobiassons would lock the 6-year-old boy, who was 5 years old when the alleged abuse occurred, in a basement room that was about 10 feet by 10 feet, according to investigators. The room was locked from the outside, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said. The boy was locked in the room for about 12 hours at a time.
“While he was in there, he had no access to food or water, and no access to bathroom facilities,” Cannon said.
There was not a light in the room, the carpet was not secured to the floor and the boy had a mattress and a blanket to sleep with, according to the statement.
The boy told investigators that to avoid getting in trouble, he would go to the bathroom while in the room and put the waste in a hole in a wall, the sheriff’s statement said.
"It's disturbing that this boy was treated this way,” Cannon said.
The child ate a diet that consisted largely of carrots, investigators said, which the Tobiassons would force the child to eat before every meal.
“If he did not finish them within a certain time limit, he would not be allowed to eat the rest of the meal,” the sheriff’s office statement said.
One time, the Tobiassons disciplined the boy for eating samples at a store when he “knew he was supposed to eat carrots before eating anything else,” officials said.
Cannon said Brett Parker Tobiasson did not want to talk to officials when being taken into custody. Clarissa Anne Tobiasson told officials she didn’t know what she was allegedly doing was wrong.
“(The mother) did express that she didn’t know that it was against the law to lock your child in a room,” Cannon said.
The Tobiassons adopted the boy and his 2-year-old brother, and have a 2-month-old girl, the sheriff’s office said. The 6-year-old is being cared for by his grandmother, and the Utah Division of Child and Family Services have custody of his brother and sister.
Neighbor Kimberly Capson was surprised at the accusations.
"They are just an average family. They were really sweet,” Capson said. "It is shocking, and it just breaks my heart as a mom to see that this has happened, and so close to home when you know we didn't see any warning signs."
Bail for the Tobiassons is set at $10,000 cash or bond.
Contributing: Ashley Moser