A Tennessee couple, charged with misdemeanor child abuse, will likely face more charges in the near future, according to Lewisburg police who claim the two were keeping their children chained to beds inside their home.
WSMV News reports Michelle Vanorden, a friend of the couple, went to police after she saw the children with chains around their ankles and took pictures of them with her cellphone.
Vanorden said she was visiting 21-year-old Evelyn Stevens at Stevens’ trailer Wednesday when she realized the home was strangely quiet. Knowing Stevens is the mother of young children, she thought that was unusual.
"I asked where the two boys were and she said, 'In the room, chained to the bed,'" Vanorden told WSMV.
She said she couldn’t believe that and decided she had to see for herself, so she made up an excuse to go to the bedroom.
"The kids were chained to the bed," Vanorden said. "About a 10-pound dog chain with a lock on it.
"Their eyes got so big because they thought I was going to let them off, but I didn't have a key," she added.
The only thing she could do was snap some pictures with her cellphone and take the photos to the police. And that’s exactly what she did.
A police officer then made a welfare check on the children.
Stevens’ fiance, 25-year-old Andrew Roberson, reportedly met the officer at the door and allowed the officer to check the house.
According to a police report obtained by WZTV News, the officer checked some beds in a back bedroom and found "chains affixed to the frames with small locks on the end."
"My daddy puts these around my ankles really tight and it hurts,” one of the boys told the officer, according to the report.
Lewisburg Police Sgt. David Henley told WZTV he believed the two boys — ages 4 and 5 — slept with the chains on their ankles.
The report said one boy’s mattress was so badly worn "only the metal coils were left for him to sleep on.”
"The bedding was not sufficient,” Henley said. “Nobody should be living on it in the condition it was in."
Police arrested both Roberson and Stevens on misdemeanor child abuse charges. The boys were placed in the care of the Department of Children Services.
It is unclear how many children were removed from the home. WSMV reports Stevens is the mother of four young children, but acquaintances of hers who spoke to WZTV suggested Stevens was also letting neighbor children live in the home.
Roberson and Stevens reportedly posted bond and have been released. They could be arrested again if their charges are upgraded to felonies. Investigators working on the case say that is likely.
The couple has reportedly bonded out of jail, but are currently scheduled to appear in court April 21.