An Indiana woman and her fiance have been charged with 16 felonies for severe abuse allegations detailed by her 14-year-old son, who was being questioned by police after running away from home.
Tina Louise Graham, 40, and Vernon Widner, 55, stand accused of physically abusing the teen for more than two years, ABC 7 reports. The boy told police he was beaten with a horsewhip and belt, threatened with knives and a gun and locked in a dog cage on multiple occasions.
After being withdrawn from school by his mother in January, the boy told police that uninterrupted time in his home was too much to bear, according to the Indiana Post-Tribune. Frequent interactions with police related to several runaway attempts prompted the victim to detail abuse allegations in March, at which point he was placed in foster care by the Indiana Department of Child Services.
The case has alarming similarities to the death of 13-year-old Christian Choate, an Indiana boy found dead at his family's home after years of physical abuse by his father and stepmother, which allegedly included locking him in a dog cage for days on end, according to Choate's sister.
Widner is being held on $70,000 bail, and Graham is free on bond, Fox Chicago reports. The pair faces up to 20 years in prison for charges including criminal confinement, negligence of a dependent and strangulation.