Dexter parents charged with chaining sons to bed

Published 10:49 am Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Two Dexter residents face criminal charges for allegedly chaining their children to beds and withholding food.

Brian Dale Miller, 33, and Charity Lynn Miller, 26, were charged in Mower County Court on Tuesday afternoon. They each face two counts of neglect of a child, two counts of malicious punishment of a child, two counts of false imprisonment and one count of child endangerment — all gross misdemeanors.

Brian Miller

The Millers were arrested Thursday and released Monday after posting bail.

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According to a court complaint, the Millers allegedly chained their sons — ages 5 and 8 — to their beds and deprived them of basic needs like food and access to the bathroom. The younger boy uses a crib as a bed. He weighs less than 30 pounds, according to court documents. Deputies noticed bruising and swelling on the boy’s ankle, which the boy said is from his chain being too tight.

Charity Miller

The 8-year-old told police he has gotten in trouble at school for taking food from other kids because he’s hungry most of the time, according to court documents. He told police he is no longer chained to his bed because he has stopped getting up for food in the middle of the night. He said his parents spank him on his bare bottom with a fly swatter, and he is only allowed out of his bedroom for school and dinner.

When officers searched the Millers’ home, they found a heavy metal chain attached to a crib with no mattress, court documents said. Officers also found several bags of trash and empty beer cans.

Charity, who works as a nurse at Staffing Solutions, told officers the 5-year-old is not allowed to use the crib’s mattress because he tears the plastic liner and mattress covering. She said the chain on the crib is there to keep him from “getting into things.” According to the court complaint, she told officers she knows it is unacceptable to chain a child to a bed.

When officers interviewed Charity, she said, “Honestly it was not my idea, it was my husband’s idea, and I honestly don’t agree with it.”

Both children told deputies they have to spend most of their time in their bedroom, often home alone.

Law enforcement was notified of the alleged abuse when one of the boys talked to a staff member at Southland Elementary School.

Sheriff Terese Amazi said Tuesday both boys are in protective custody.

The Millers are scheduled to enter their pleas on May 12.