An Arkansas mother and her boyfriend were taken into custody and charged with first-degree domestic battery after the woman’s four-year-old daughter was found zip-tied to her bed, reports KTLA.
Jennifer Diane Denen, 30, and her 47-year-old live-in boyfriend, Clarence Eugene Reed, both residents of Hot Springs, were taken into custody last week after a staff member at the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center found Denen’s daughter to be severely malnourished and abused, according to The Washington Post.
At the time when the police officers arrived at the center, the couple were still there, but were not arrested pending investigation. Later, when officers came to know the extent of the abuse that the four-year-old girl had been subjected to, Denen and her boyfriend were arrested at their home.
The young girl was found zip-tied to her bed, and the couple were consequently charged with domestic battery, permitting abuse of a minor, and endangering welfare of a minor, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The couple are currently being held on a $500,000 bond.
The four-year-old girl had deep purple bruises, a black eye, a swollen cheek, and a mark on her forehead, authorities said, while there were healing scars across her back, dried blood in the corner of the her mouth, and ligature marks on her wrist.
The most startling moment in the investigation came when a police officer asked the girl her name. Her response was shocking: “Idiot,” she said.
More grisly details about the nature of the abuse also came to light, with the Arkansas mother admitting that she and her boyfriend not only beat up the girl constantly, but also zip-tied the child to the bed in order to punish her for climbing the kitchen cabinets.
Denen told investigators that Reed beat her daughter with a plastic bat, and when investigators confronted Reed with the allegation, he said that he used a “half-inch-thick wooden paddle” to beat the young girl. Although he admitted calling the girl “Idiot” instead of using her actual name, he said that he meant it as a joke.
The mother also admitted to never seeking medical care for the girl’s injuries, and when asked if she also called her girl “Idiot,” Denen said that she did so whenever Reed was around.
While there were other children living with Denen and Reed, it appears the four-year-old girl was the worst victim of their abuse. Cpl. Kirk Zaner, spokesman for the Hot Springs Police Department, told the Post that six other children, the youngest one being 11-months-old, were also found to be living with the Arkansas couple, but their condition and the evidence at hand did not suggest that they were subject to similar abuse. The youngest one is the only child that Denen had with Reed.
The four-year-old girl and the 11-month-old are now in the custody of the Department of Human Services, while their four siblings are now with their biological father.
While this is not the first instance of a young child being zip-tied to the bed, this is one of the most grotesque cases of child abuse to have emerged this year. In January, another horror case of a Sarasota couple, Eugenio and Victoria Erquiaga, came to light, when, after being inspired by a police show on television, they hog-tied their 12-year-old daughter to the extent that she could not even move for several hours at end.
About 80 percent of child abuse perpetrators in the United States are the children’s biological parents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while about four percent of the perpetrators are also the parents’ unmarried partners, like in the Arkansas girl’s case.
[Image via Hot Springs Police Department]