A seven-year-old Wisconsin boy, Ethan Hauschultz, died last year after being forced to carry a 44-pound log for two hours in cold temperatures before being buried under snow for more than 20 minutes, Fox 11 News reports. He was allegedly struck around 100 times during the ordeal, which was a punishment for failure to learn 13 Bible verses.
Charges were filed against three individuals in the case: Timothy Hauschultz, 48, Tina Hauschultz, 35, and the couple's son, Damian Hauschultz, 15. Timothy and Tina were the court-appointed legal guardians of Ethan Hauschultz, although the circumstances of that appointment are not clear.
Timothy Hauschultz is charged with felony murder, plus five related charges. Tina Hauschultz is charged with failing to prevent bodily harm and intentionally contributing to the delinquency of a child. Damian Hauschultz is charged with first-degree reckless homicide and six other charges. Juveniles can be charged with homicide and adjudicated in adult court in Wisconsin.
The trio is scheduled to appear in Manitowoc County court on Monday.
According to the criminal complaint, Damian Hauschultz was ordered to supervise a punishment that included carrying the log along a snowy pathway in the family's yard. During that time, it is alleged that Damian repeatedly hit the boy, including with various objects. Ethan Hauschultz was also subjected to having the log rolled across his chest and being stood on before ultimately being buried in a snowbank without a boots or a coat.
The brutal nature and circumstances of the crime have attracted international attention, with social media users around the world reacting in shock.Both Ethan and his twin brother were subjected to the punishment. The other boy survived.
In addition to hypothermia, the technical cause of death, Ethan suffered injuries including blunt force trauma to the head, chest, and abdomen, plus a rib fracture, according to the medical examiner.
In an interview with police, Damian Hauschultz said he "didn't do anything that would have hurt" the boy, but also described the variety of physical punishments in the criminal complaint, including covering him in "his own little coffin of snow."
The punishment was intended to include one week of daily log carrying for two hours per day. Timothy Hauschultz dictated the punishment and picked out the logs for the twin boys and Damian was instructed to supervise the punishment.
A third sibling was also under the care of the family, but is not believed to have been involved in this incident.