Stepmother charged with felony child abuse of boys, 5 and 8, in Tooele

Tooele County Detention Center. Photo: Google Streets

TOOELE COUNTY, Utah, May 9, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — A Tooele woman has been jailed on felony aggravated child abuse charges after she allegedly punished two of her stepsons by placing boxes on their heads and tying their hands behind their backs.

The charges were filed after the 11-year-old brother of the two boys, ages 5 and 8, shared a video at his elementary school. Gephardt Daily is withholding the name of the 37-year-old stepmother to protect the privacy of the children.

“He stated he took the video because he gets angry that this is happening to his brother and needed to show the video to someone to get help,” say charging documents filed by an officer of the Tooele City Police Department. “He stated sometimes he felt like untying them and runaway together. He stated that this punishment had been happening for almost two years.

“He stated that if his brothers are loud in the morning, they get placed on time out for the whole day. He stated that his stepmom … is the one that mainly puts them on timeout, but his father knows about it too. He stated that a marble maze toy that rattles is placed on top of both boxes one for each brother and if they move at all, they have to tie one leg to their hands leaving them with one leg stand for 30 minutes or more if they move or talk.”


Tooele City police talked to the victims and, “they both confirmed that this had been happening to them,” the woman’s probable cause statement says. “They both had what appeared to look like a burn mark under their chin. Both boys stated that it was caused by their chins rubbing against the boxes inside. The 8-year-old male victim described that his ears hurt while inside the box because the box is too tight and hurts his ears. He stated that (his stepmother) places a granola box inside the box to make it a smaller space for them not to be able to move their heads inside at all.”

The investigating officer noted that, “the boxes appeared to my opinion way too small for the two victims to be able to get any airway inside,” later adding that the boys told a nurse that having their heads in the boxes made them feel like they were going to faint.

Search warrant

A search warrant was granted on Tuesday and investigators found the two boxes the boys described, along with two black shoe laces and two marble rattling toys, and two smaller boxes the “older sibling stated was used to have the victims place their feet against the wall and not be able to move.”

Police interviewed the boys’ stepmother the next day, and she “admitted that this is what she does to the kids as a form of discipline. She stated that on Sunday, the kids were noisy in the morning so after eating breakfast she told the 8- and 5-year-old victims to get into time out. She stated that she usually does increments of two hours.”

The suspect told police that on Sunday, the boys wore the boxes for two hours after breakfast, then two more hours after lunch, her probable cause statement says.

“She stated this had been going on for possibly the last three months. She admitted to tying their hands with the black shoe laces and if they moved, she then tied one leg leaving them in one leg stand for 30 minutes.”

The boys’ stepmother was booked into the Tooele County Detention Center Thursday on two charges of aggravated child abuse, intentionally or knowingly, a second-degree felony. She is being held without bail.


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