Huffpost Crime

Robert Hohn, Shannon Watterson Kept Boy Locked In Bare Room For Months, Cops Say

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Robert Hohn, 42, and Shannon Watterson, 39, have been charged with felony child abuse and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
Robert Hohn, 42, and Shannon Watterson, 39, have been charged with felony child abuse and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

A couple in Newark, Del., has been arrested for allegedly locking a 12-year-old boy in a bare room for three months.

Police say the child's father, 42-year-old Robert Hohn, and stepmother, 39-year-old Shannon Watterson, kept the child in a room containing nothing but a lamp with no lampshade.

Investigators found the window screwed shut and the door handle installed backwards, NBC 10 reports. The couple allegedly let the boy out only briefly to use the bathroom and eat very small meals.

Melissa Ferraro-Walsh told the station that she found the child on her doorstep Tuesday night, after he managed to escape from the room and run, barefoot, to her house for help.

The woman lives a mile away from the home where the boy was being kept.

"He was so tiny you wouldn't even be able to tell his age," she said. Investigators say Hohn and Watterson restricted their son's food intake, and that he was 20 pounds underweight.

After the woman prepared some food for the child, "he ate and ate and ate for four hours and you could tell that he was just ravenous," she told WPVI.

The boy also had bruises on his face, Cecil Daily reports.

Ferraro-Walsh said she knew the boy because he used to go to school with her son. Hohn and Watterson had purportedly been homeschooling their child for the past three months.

Three other children, ages 9, 10 and 14, had been living in the couple's home. Those kids were attending regular school, according to NBC 10, but they were also allegedly abused, according to WFMZ.

The boy is in the care of a hospital, where doctors are attempting to get his weight up to healthy levels and treating foot injuries he sustained in the journey to Ferraro-Walsh's house.

The woman told WPVI that the boy kept saying he didn't want his parents to get in trouble.

Hohn and Watterson were arrested Wednesday and charged with felony child abuse and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

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