Marie Horton is a 27-year-old mom of three from Fort Bend County, Texas, who now faces charges over a strange and frightening form of punishment that she inflicted on her seven-year-old son when she thought that the boy had pulled a false fire alarm at his school.
And the child’s dad, 29-year-old Christoper Funderburg, was also charged — even though he was not even present at the time of the punishment, and did not notice his son’s injuries until the following morning, according to a report from Houston’s KTRK-TV News.
The incident occurred last September at the the family’s home in Waterview Estates in Fort Bend. The grand jury indictment of Horton on a charge of felony injury to a child was announced on Monday of this week, KPRC‑TV in Houston reported. And according to what the boy told police investigators, this was not the first time his mother had subjected him to the punishment.
Here’s what happened, according to court records revealed by the KTRK reports, and as seen in the video news report, below.
Why Horton believed that her son had committed the false alarm offense remains unclear. But what is clear from the court records is that the mom attempted to get the truth out of the boy by forcing him to stand in scalding hot water — so hot that the boy told police that he felt the skin peeling off his legs when she finally let him out.
Horton not only filled the bathtub in their home with the hot water and intimidated him into placing his feet into the tub, she physically restrained him, holding his hands down and pressing her own foot against his legs to make sure that he could not pull his feet from the burning hot water, according to the court documents.
She also threatened the boy with further torture, telling him, “If you don’t stay in, I’ll make you sit in the tub!” according to the boy’s interview with police. “Why did you pull the alarm. Please tell me why so you can get out,” she reportedly added.
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When doctors were finally able to examine the boy, they found second and third-degree burns on his feet. He clearly needed medical attention — a fact that frustrated investigators on the case because Marie Horton herself is a registered nurse, and presumably should have known the severity of her child’s burns.
Horton denied to police that she forced the boy to stand in the hot water, claiming that she turned on the water and left the bathroom, only to hear her son screaming moments later. But her son said she had used the same method of punishment on him previously, and even had a name for it, “the hot water punishment.”
But she still did not bring him to a hospital or to get any kind of medical checkup for his injuries, because she believed that, according to what she told investigators, her training as a nurse allowed her treat the burns herself.
Funderburg was also charged in the burning incident even though he was at his place of employment and not present during the alleged torture punishment. But when he saw the boy’s burns the following morning, he agreed that the child did not need to be taken to a doctor, believing again that Horton was a nurse and could handle the problem.
The young victim, however, told the police that his parents did not seek out medical help for him because they “didn’t know what to say to the doctors” about how the injuries occurred.
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The boy, who is reportedly still recovering from the burns that were inflicted on him six months ago, also accused his mom of using the same punishment on him on at least four previous occasions.
The state’s Child Protective Services Department removed all three children, the boy and two younger girls, from the couple’s home, placing them with other family members.
An attorney representing Marie Horton and Christoper Funderburg declined to comment on the bizarre punishment case when approached by local media outlets.
[Photo by Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office]