On a January evening, deputies in Utah responded to a hospital where a father had taken his 12-year-old son.
“Investigators began to follow up on the circumstances which led to the child’s hospitalization,” a Washington County Sheriff’s Office news release said. “The child was taken for medical care by his father after he reportedly found the child locked in an upstairs bathroom of the mother’s home.”
Authorities got a search warrant and visited the home in Toquerville, Utah, according to the sheriff’s office. At the home, where the boy lived with his mother, they were “able to confirm the living conditions initially described by the father.”
Investigators discovered that the bathroom door had “two locking mechanisms capable of securing the door from the outside.”
Inside the bathroom, they found a blanket, a few empty bean cans and a camera that could monitor what was going on in the room.
They also reported “feces scattered throughout the room,” the release stated.
“It is one of the most horrible things I’ve ever had to see,” Washington County Sheriff’s Office Lt. David Crouse told the Associated Press.
“I wish I could un-see it.”
Crouse told The Washington Post that he wasn’t one of the responding investigators but has seen photographs taken of the scene. He called the boy, who weighed 30 pounds, “extremely malnourished.”
“The child looked like he was the victim of a concentration camp from World War II,” he told a Fox affiliate. In a People magazine article, he compared the victim’s living situation to “a horrific incarceration in a third world country, where they just toss you in some food now and then.”
“Skin and bones and only weighing 30 pounds,” Crouse told the St. George News, describing the boy’s condition.
The child’s mother, Brandy Jaynes, 36, of Toquerville, has been arrested for aggravated child abuse, which is a second-degree felony, according to the news release. Two other children were also removed from the home. Detectives interviewed siblings of the child after the initial arrest, Crouse said.
“Based off their statements, it appears that the 12-year-old victim was locked in the bathroom for a minimum of a year, possibly two years,” he said.
The investigation is ongoing, said Crouse.
He said he is frequently asked about the father’s suspected role in the case.
“It’s the same question that everybody on the street has asked me and every single reporter has asked, is like people want to know how did he not know.” Crouse said. “That’s part of the investigation. We need to reiterate the fact that this investigation is not closed. It is very much dynamic and ongoing at this point. We’re continuing to investigate all leads and witnesses to try to determine the circumstances which led up to that boy’s condition.”
Documents obtained by the Spectrum in St. George indicated that an officer who responded to the hospital described the boy as “a small-framed child that appeared to be very skinny.”
A doctor called it the “worst case of malnutrition” that they had ever seen, according to the Spectrum. The newspaper reported:
The officer wrote in the report that detectives found the bathroom in the home, and they observed two latches on the exterior of the bathroom door, as to lock the door from the outside.
According to the statement, detectives entered the bathroom and observed feces covering the floor. The toilet bowl was “full of feces to the point that you could not see any water,” according to the report.
“This is something out of the makings of a horror film,” Crouse told the St. George News. “It’s like one of the more heinous captivity stories I’ve ever been told.”
The Spectrum reported that Jaynes allegedly told investigators that her son wanted to sleep in the bathroom, and when she left the home, she’d sometimes leave him in the locked room “for his safety.”