Mona and Russell Hauer, both 44, of North Mankato, Minn., were charged with child endangerment and malicious punishment of a child for allegedly starving the 8-year-old boy, Minnesota Public Radio reported. The Hauers were charged with four other felonies.
The couple allegedly had the adopted boy on a liquid diet and punished him by refusing to provide him with food, according to the news outlet.
An alarm was allegedly placed on the boy’s door to prevent him from getting food, the Associated Press reported. The 8-year-old told police that he took rotting food from a compost site to survive.
The alleged child abuse caught the eye of prosecutors when the Hauers took their adopted son to the Mayo Clinic in Mankato Oct. 9 after they thought they saw blood on his shirt, Minnesota Public Radio reported.
When the boy was examined, doctors found that his bones were protruding, his brain atrophied and he had a slow heartbeat.
Doctors also discovered the boy was vomiting blood and was severely underweight and short for his age, according to CBS Minnesota. The boy was only 3-feet 5-inches tall.
The child’s enamel was wearing off because of vomiting and doctors diagnosed him with anemia and “failure to thrive,” CBS Minnesota reported.
Mona Hauer told investigators that she had her adopted son on a liquid diet because he had problems with vomiting and he would sneak out of bed to “steal food, CBS Minnesota reported.
The Hauers have three other children who were allowed to eat regular food, according to Minnesota Public Radio. Prosecutors said the children were homeschooled and rarely saw doctors.
The three other children, who are the biological kids of the Hauers, also claimed to be abused. The children claimed their parents hit them with 2-by-4s or a broom handled, but they said their adopted brother was always punished the worst.
The adopted 8-year-old is being treated for malnutrition and an eating disorder, the news outlet reported.