A Texas couple was arrested after police say they found a 5-year-old boy severely malnourished and bruised.
Investigators were alerted to the home last Thursday night by the toddler's 16-year-old stepbrother. The teen told police he got into a fist fight with the victim's 24-year-old father, Bradley Bleimeyer, after he found the toddler trapped in a small closet wearing a diaper, Click2Houston reported.
When officers arrived, the father and the victim's stepmother, 33-year-old Tammi Bleimeyer, allegedly fled the house with the little boy.
The teen told authorities that the parents were keeping his stepbrother locked in a closet under the stairs. Police found the room, which was furnished with little else but a mattress and a lock on the door.
Assistant Chief Mark Herman told KHOU news that in his 28 years of experience, he'd never seen an abuse case so extreme:
“[The victim] was severely under nourished, bone sticking out, bumps, bruises. His skin was coming off on his back. It's a horrific horrific situation,” Herman told the station.
Photos released by the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable's Office show the damage the victim's parents allegedly inflicted on the frail, blond-haired boy. In the photos, the boy appears dangerously underweight, with his ribs and shoulder blades showing through his skin. The skin on his back also appears scabbed and peeling.
WARNING: Graphic Image.Click To View
A day after the parents left with the boy, authorities said they found the couple at a motel after tracking Tammi Bleimeyer's cellphone.
"It's quite common for them to keep this kid locked away and we don't know why, they refuse to speak to us," Herman told Click2Houston. "This is something out a third world country, not here in the U.S."
Tammi Bleimeyer, who is currently six months pregnant and has five other children, including the 16-year-old teen who initially alerted authorities, was released on a $2,000 bond, according to the New York Daily News.
Bradley Bleimeyer is being held without bond. He had already been out on bail for a previous burglary arrest. Both parents were charged with felony child endangerment.
KHOU News crews said they saw Tammi Bleimeyer picking her kids up from their elementary school after she posted her bond. She told the station the story is untrue.
Neighbor Skip Warren told the station this isn't the first time investigators have been at the couple's home.
"It's not the first time CPS or police have been out," Warren said.
The 5-year-old victim remains hospitalized and is in the custody of Child Protective Services.