MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota couple are accused of starving their 8-year-old adopted son, feeding him only liquid and putting an alarm on his door so he would not steal food, according to criminal charges that say the boy was so malnourished his bones protruded and he weighed as much as a child half his age.
Mona Hauer and Russell Hauer of North Mankato each are charged with six felonies, including neglect and malicious punishment of a child. In addition to starving the boy, authorities said, they beat him with a broom handle and made him sleep in a sled in the basement because he wet the bed.
Online court records did not say whether the Hauers, who also have a biological child and adopted two of the boy's siblings, have an attorney. Multiple calls to the family's home went unanswered Monday and the voicemail box was full.
The complaint, filed Friday, said Mona Hauer brought the boy to Mayo Clinic Health Systems-Mankato on Oct. 9 because she thought he had vomited blood. She said the boy had eating issues and had been regurgitating his food for months.
He weighed just 34.8 pounds and was 3 feet, 5 inches tall — about the weight of an average 4-year-old when measured on standard growth charts. The complaint said the boy was "very thin, his bones were protruding, and his abdomen was distended."
He was transferred to Rochester and found to have a slow heartbeat, anemia, brain atrophy and delayed bone growth due to malnutrition, the complaint said. He remained hospitalized Friday and was on a diet to increase his weight. The hospital would not release his status Monday.
Nicollet County Social Services officials would not comment on the case, or say whether the other children remained in the home. Le Sueur County Human Services, which handled social services in this case, referred questions to the Nicollet County attorney, who was in court and did not return a message seeking additional details Monday.
The boy told officials the couple made him sit at the table and drink a liquid diet while the rest of the family ate. He said at times he was so hungry he ate dirty food from a compost site. He told doctors he didn't brush his teeth and regurgitated his food "because he wanted the taste of food and he did not know when he would eat again," the complaint said.