A North Carolina couple’s zip-tied 4-year-old has been taken into state custody, and the parents involved have been arrested and charged for binding the girl by her wrists and ankles to a baby gate.
Police say the zip-tied 4-year-old’s parents, 26-year-old Gerald Thomas Swinehart and 28-year-old Marlaine Victoria Coffey, engaged in other abusive behavior resulting in injury to the girl as well.
Local news source the Charlotte Observer reports that the zip-tied 4-year-old exhibited other injuries consistent with physical abuse above and beyond the alleged unorthodox and dangerous method of restraint used by the pair:
“Arrest warrants from Raleigh police said Gerald Thomas Swinehart, 26, pushed or kicked the girl so that her lower teeth broke through her lower lip, and he and Marlaine Victoria Coffey, 28, were charged with using zip ties – the plastic pull-through strips that electricians use to bundle wires – to bind the girl’s wrists and ankles and then to tie her to a baby gate.”
It was not clear whether the parents used the plastic restraints on multiple occasions, or if the incident was singular. Police also did not say how the abuse was uncovered.
Swinehart has been charged with two counts of Intentional Child Abuse Inflicting Serious Physical Injury, and his bond has been set at $100,000. Coffey’s bond was set at $50,000, and faces a single count.
The couple police say zip-tied their 4-year-old appeared in court Monday after voluntarily leaving Florida to face the charges. It is not clear whether either have an attorney, and the girl was removed by social services on March 31.