Parents locked son, 13, in basement room for ‘disciplinary reasons,’ police say

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(CNN) — Citing “disciplinary reasons,” a Georgia couple told authorities they locked their 13-year-old son in a small basement room with nothing but a mattress, a box spring and a bucket for a toilet, police said.

State child protection workers went to the home of Recardo and Therian Wimbush after receiving a tip and found the boy locked in an 8-by-6-foot room with no light bulb, books, toys or television, said Cpl. Jake Smith, spokesman for the Gwinnett County police.

“He was essentially being treated as a prisoner would be treated,” Smith said, according to CNN affiliate WSB. “The window had been painted over. There was no light bulb outside. What was inside was a bucket that the child was using as a bathroom, a mattress and box spring.”

Parents Recardo Wimbush, 33, and Therian Wimbush, 37, of Buford, Georgia, have been charged with child cruelty and false imprisonment.

Recardo Wimbush was a star football player at Georgia Tech from 1999 to 2002. A linebacker, he signed a contract with the Atlanta Falcons but was cut before the season started.

The boy had been confined to the room about two years and locked inside since January 2013, Smith said.

He and his nine siblings appeared to be in good health and showed no outward signs of physical abuse or malnutrition, Smith said. The parents would bring food downstairs to the boy when the rest of the family had meals, Smith said.

The Georgia Division of Family and Child Services took the 10 children — the youngest, 18 months — into custody. The boy is the oldest.

At a deprivation hearing, the Wimbushes said the boy was put in the basement for “disciplinary reasons,” Smith said. WSB reported the boy said he was put in the basement room because he took the family DVD and lied about it.

CNN reached out Thursday to the Wimbushes as well as two lawyers who police said represented the couple. There was no immediate response.

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  • HarsherPunishmentForCriminals

    He was treated much worse than an prisoner in the USA. He would have had satellite or cable TV, internet, education, yard privileges, a weight room, commissary and three hot meals a day. And people wonder why criminals in our country commit crime. NO punishment for criminals. Child abuse should equal a life sentence in the same condition they kept him in!

  • Steven Sweeney

    Ten kids? Father of the year should do many years just like his kid did.I can’t believe the mother went along with this.The rest of those kids should be in foster care while the “parents” stay in the hole for a few years.

    • rose

      STEVEN, The mother is just as guilty. He was the oldest of 10 in 13 years, even the children next to him in age would know this was not right and should have reported them to authorities for the sake of their brother.

  • metatronking

    You guys are unbelievable. First you ridicule african americans for their behaviour and site the “absense of a strong father figure” as part of the problem in some articles. Now here is a dad exercising strong parenting skills and you condemn him for that.

    • Clyde Lee Dennis

      This was my very first thought too when I started reading this story. This type of discipline isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I sure appreciate it more than going the other way and instilling no discipline at all. This is one of those damned if you do damned if you don’t situations.

  • Charley

    It may have been harsh, but at least the child is getting discipline. That is the problem with most children today, lack of discipline. That is why more young people are doing the things they do with out regard for anyone’s life , well being , or property. so what is worse, him living in a basement room without some amenities for a bit, or ending up in prison, Oh wait prison has better benefits. Give the father some classes on “how to rear children properly” if such a thing exists. What about the man that did a crime years ago and skirted the system due to a screw up in the police department. He got off Scott free because he became the model citizen had a job , a wife, a family and didn’t do anything wrong since then. He did not have to go to jail. This man could lose all the things he worked for too, Give him the necessary tools to change his behavior. God how our justice system is so mucked up.

  • So VERY sad

    This isn’t discipline…this is ABUSE! This is disgusting! I’m glad the other children were removed, too. These parents clearly aren’t fit to parent anyone.

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