Parents Accused Of Locking Up Child In Basement For 2 Years
By Steve Visser, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATLANTA — Gwinnett County Police were still waiting Friday at noon for the couple charged in a bizarre child cruelty case to come in to be booked into jail.
Recardo and Therian Wimbush reached an agreement earlier in the week to turn themselves in on felony charges of child cruelty and false imprisonment.
Police contend they kept their 13-year-old son locked up in the basement for two years, away from his nine siblings. They have been married since their Georgia Tech days where Recardo was a football star and team captain in 2002; Therian was a tutor and earned duel degrees from Spelman College and Tech.
Gwinnett Police Cpl. Jake Smith said he did not know why detectives did not arrest the couple out right when arrest warrants were issued Wednesday.
“It is not our most common practice,” he said. “They may not have been around where the detectives could lay hands on them.”
Smith, spokesman for Gwinnett police, noted social workers had removed the 10 children from the Buford couple’s house so they were not at risk.
Recardo, 33, and Therian, 37, told investigators they had locked their 13-year-old son in a room in the basement for “disciplinary reasons,” Smith said.
“The victim had been confined to the room for most of the past two years and a lock had been added to the victim’s room in January 2013,” Smith said. “The victim had no access to books, toys, entertainment devices, or his siblings.”
The Buford, Ga., couple was charged with malicious and intentional cruelty to children and false imprisonment and have until today to turn themselves in to authorities, Smith said. Police said the child appeared healthy.
The Wimbushes told a judge at a June 19 family court hearing that the 13-year-old was a threat to their other children. The arrest warrant said the child was “sent to the basement of the family house for the past two years in deplorable conditions due to being disobedient.”
Attempts to reach the Wimbushes for comment were unsuccessful.
The warrants arose out of an investigation by the Department of Family and Children Services following an anonymous tip.
Social workers discovered the boy was being confined to a small room that locked from the outside; it contained a bare box springs and mattress and “a large plastic jar, which was apparently used as a toilet,” Smith said.
The boy was in good health, as were his nine siblings, and there were no other signs of abuse. After a hearing, a judge removed all the children from the house and contacted Gwinnett Police who searched the house the next day, Smith said.
Detectives found that the boy was fed at normal meal times and that the room was kept clean; the parents had added a sheet to the make-shift bed since the visit by the social workers, Smith said.
But detectives don’t believe the boy was being schooled — none of the children attended public school — and was only occasionally let out to use the bathroom, Smith said. The room was dark, with no light bulb in its fixture and the “single window was painted white which let in a small amount of light during daylight hours,” Smith said.
AFP Photo/Scott Olson
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