The family of a six-year-old boy arranged his “kidnapping” to teach him not to be so friendly so strangers, police in Missouri have alleged.
Police said the child endured a terrifying four-hour ordeal during which he was lured into a truck, threatened with a gun and told he would never see his mother – who had allegedly helped plan the incident – again. He was also stripped of his trousers and told he might sold as a sex slave or “nailed to the wall of a shed”.
Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said they had arrested four people in connection with the alleged incident – the boy’s mother, Elizabeth Hupp, and grandmother, Rose Brewer, along with his aunt, Denise Kroutil, and one of his aunt’s work colleagues, Nathan Firoved.
A statement released by the police said that Ms Kroutil had asked Mr Firoved to stage a kidnapping of the boy to scare him. The boy’s mother and grandmother approved of the plan to “teach him a lesson”, the police said
“Family members told investigators their primary intent was to educate the victim and felt they did nothing wrong,” said a press release cited by the KTLA5 TV channel.
Police said the boy, who has not been named, was lured into Mr Firoved’s pick-up truck after he got off the school bus in Troy, a small town north of St Louis. At that point, police allege, Mr Firoved told the boy he wold never see his mother again.
When the youngster started crying, Mr Firoved pulled out a handgun and threatened that he would hurt him if he did not stop crying, police said.
Investigators said Mr Firoved bound the boy’s hands and feet with plastic bags, then covered the child’s face with a jacket. Mr Firoved drove the boy to his own home, carried the child into the basement, and left him there.
Ms Kroutil, the boy’s aunt, walked down into the basement, pulled down the boy's trousers and began shouting that he could be sold into sex slavery. She also allegedly chastised the child for not trying to resist her or Mr Firoved, said reports
“The victim remained in the basement for some time before he was unbound and told to go upstairs, where the victim’s family lectured him about stranger danger,” said the police statement.
Police said the boy told his teachers at school about the incident on Wednesday and told school authorities the Missouri Division of Family Services. The sheriff’s office was called to the home and the child placed into protective custody.
Police said Mr Firoved, Ms Brewer, and Ms Kroutil were charged with kidnapping and the abuse of of a child. They remain in custody at Lincoln County Jail on a $250,000 (£164,000) bond.
The boy’s mother, Ms Hupp, was charged with kidnapping and abuse of a child. She remains jailed on a $250,000 bond.
There has been no comment from the four accused. It is not clear who their lawyers are.
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