Will Earnest Cater, 53, and his wife, Wylie Sue Cater, 43, both of Covington, are charged with false imprisonment and three counts of child abuse.
In an old trailer—often referred to as the shed—where the sisters said their 14-year-old brother was housed, there was no electricity or running water.
COVINGTON, TN -
(WMC-TV) - A husband and wife are under arrest after one of their "custodial adopted" children called police to report that she and her sister were kept in a locked room and their brother was being locked in an un-insulated garage outside.
The girl who called police said she and her 12-year-old sister were locked in the bedroom as soon as they arrived home from school every day.
When deputies arrived, they found the windows had been screwed shut and there was a "bariatric commode" in the room. The girls said they were fed in that room and the only time they were allowed out was to go to school.
In an old trailer—often referred to as the shed—where the sisters said their 14-year-old brother was housed, there was no electricity or running water. He reportedly used the same type of toilet as his sisters and had a small space heater.
"One out of every four days during this time period was below freezing, below 32. It's horrendous," said Tipton County Sheriff's Office Chief Donna Turner.
Deputies were told the boy was allowed to come into the house for breakfast before going to school, but after school he returned to the shed.
A schoolmate describes the three alleged victims as friendly and extremely quiet, but investigators say one of them opened up about what was allegedly happening at home.
The schoolmate, unidentified at the request of her mother, rode the bus with the three children.
"I'm more surprised and shocked than anything, because I never thought they'd do that to their own kids," she said.
One of the girls eventually told someone who contacted the sheriff's office. That person who contacted the sheriff's office was with the girl when she made the call.
Investigators say the conditions are a form of punishment, which has lasted six months.
Friends of the kids' adoptive parents, Will and Wylie Cater, say the couple appeared to be living comfortably.
"It's nice in there and neat, clean," said Melton Hennings, who is a friend of the Cater family. "Big screen TVs in there all over the place. It's real nice in there."
The children were immediately taken out of custody and are getting medical evaluations.
Will and Wylie Cater are charged with false imprisonment and three counts of child abuse. The money being received by the Caters for being the children's legal guardians has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation into the abuse allegations.
According to court documents, the pair admitted to the crimes.
Wednesday, July 30 2014 5:57 AM EDT2014-07-30 09:57:07 GMT
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