ESCANABA (AP) - A 15-year-old boy was kept inside an Escanaba home for four years, rarely leaving a room made from tarps while being tortured and abused, police told The Associated Press Thursday.
Susan Marie Bardo, 46, the victim's mother, and her boyfriend, Carl James Pellinen, 47, were arrested April 12 on three felonies connected to the alleged abuse. They remain lodged in Delta County Jail each in lieu of a $50,000 cash bond.
Bardo and Pellinen are each charged with torture, child abuse and criminal sexual conduct, said Escanaba Public Safety Capt. Jamie Segorski. Each felony carries a maximum sentencing of life in prison.
A pinwheel was found tied to a tree Tuesday at the Escanaba residence of a 15-year-old boy allegedly abused and tortured by his mother and her boyfriend while he was kept upstairs for four years. When police were dispatched to check on the child’s welfare last week, they found windows in the home were masked off with black plastic. (Daily Press photo by Jenny Lancour)
"Neighbors were surprised there was a child in the house. They never saw toys or bikes. It was shocking to them," Segorski told The Associated Press.
"There was a large room, like an attic, and a smaller room using tarps that were stapled to the walls and floor," he said. "The only source of heat was a space heater. He was allowed on the stairs to eat."
The boy was discovered last Friday when a relative who hadn't seen him asked police for help. Segorski said school officials were never suspicious of an absence because the teen was not enrolled in Escanaba schools.
He and his mother were not longtime residents of the area.
When police arrived at the home located on the 1500 block of North 20th Street, Segorski said the boy was scared.
"It was just a shock there were people other than (the boyfriend) and his mother at the residence," the police captain said.
The teen is under the care of Child Protective Services.
A preliminary hearing is set for April 25 in district court to determine if there is probable cause to send the case to circuit court for a trial or plea.