A Tooele couple accused of abusing two of their children by putting small boxes on their heads and tying their hands behind their backs, leaving them out in the cold and locking them in their bedroom for hours at a time as a form of "discipline," have been arrested.
Lori Carling, 37, was charged Monday in 3rd District Court with two counts of child abuse, a second-degree felony. She was arrested and booked into the Tooele County Jail on Thursday.
Also Monday, Tooele police arrested Carling's husband, Chad Allen Andersen, 36, who detectives say not only knew about the abuse but helped coordinate some of it. He was booked into jail for investigation of two counts of aggravated child abuse.
The investigation began May 2 when an 11-year-old boy showed the principal at his elementary school a video of his two younger brothers "in time-out at home, standing with a box over their heads and their hands tied behind their backs," according to a police booking affidavit.
Police were called to the school and the boy told officers that "he took the video because he gets angry that this is happening to his brothers and needed to show the video to someone to get help. He stated sometimes he felt like untying them and run away together," the affidavit states.
The boy told officers that this type of abuse had been happening for the past two years, primarily from their stepmother, Carling. If his brothers are loud in the morning, they are placed in "time out" for the entire day, according to the affidavit.
"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 (to stand on) for 30 minutes or more if they move or talk," the affidavit states.
When the brothers, ages 8 and 5, were interviewed by police, officers observed what appeared to be burn marks on both of their chins, which were actually caused by their chins rubbing against cardboard. One boy also said his ears hurt because Carling would place a smaller box on his head, with a larger box on top, "to make it a smaller space for them not to be able to move their heads inside at all," according to the affidavit.
Police served a search warrant on the boys' home on May 3 and collected boxes and shoelaces.
"The boxes appeared, (in) my opinion, way too small for the two victims to be able to get any airway inside," the arresting officer wrote.
When questioned by police, Carling admitted to putting boxes on the boys' heads and tying their hands "as a form of discipline," the affidavit states. She claimed she would make the boys wear the boxes in increments of two hours. Carling stated that on a recent day she made the boys wear the boxes for two hours after eating breakfast, then two more hours after lunch, according to the affidavit. She claimed this type of discipline had been going on for several months.
Tooele detectives believe the "discipline" had been going on for a couple of years, but had gotten progressively more abusive in recent months, according to police.
A total of six children lived in the house, but only two were being abused, police said. Those two boys — who were both stepchildren to Carling — were taken into state protective custody. The other four children had been allowed to remain with Carling's husband, who also lives in the house, before his arrest Monday.
After Carling was arrested, police continued to investigate Andersen's possible involvement and questioned him again.
"(Andersen) advised that he also came up with the idea along with Ms. Carling to use the boxes on the children. He stated that it initially started as a joke and scare tactic, but then decided to actually use the boxes because nothing they did was working on the children," according to a jail booking affidavit.
The remaining four children in the house were placed with other relatives, who also talked to detectives after Carling's arrest, according to police.
"I was advised that Mr. Andersen knew about the abuse the whole time and that he participated in more child abuse events," the arresting officer wrote in the arrest report after talking to the relatives. "I was told that the two victim boys were also locked in their bedrooms during family gatherings. One family member stated that she asked Mr. Andersen on one occasion why the boys were locked in their bedrooms with a cord connected from one doorknob to another doorknob and she was told by Ms. Carling and Mr. Andersen that it was so the boys would not get out of their bedrooms because they had been bad."
Andersen then told the relative that the boys had been locked in their rooms all day, according to the affidavit. That relative then peeked in on the boys and saw they were sleeping on a wooden floor with no mattresses. Police also noted there was "a strong smell of urine from inside the boys' bedroom."
On another occasion, one of the boys was "disciplined" by being left outside in cold weather for 10 minutes and was found "curled up on the ground wearing a short sleeve, pants and just socks," the affidavit states.
Correction: An earlier version incorrectly identified Chad Andersen as Chris Andersen.