Uncle kept boy chained, captive to keep drug house secret
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Deputies busted an indoor grow house Wednesday in Baker County, Florida after a middle-schooler alerted school officials to her uncle's business.
According to Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson, police responded to her home and found the grow operation.
Her uncle, Troy Howell, had custody of the middle school student and her brothers, who are 15 and 18, Dobson said.
While investigating the marijuana-grow business, the older boy told deputies Howell put a chain around his neck that was attached to the axle of the mobile home then looped through the floor.
The teen had a doorbell to press when he needed to use the bathroom.
He is now hospitalized.
Investigators arrested Howell and charged him with aggravated child abuse.
Sheriff Dobson expects Howell will also face possession of more than 20 ounces of marijuana and cultivating marijuana charges at a later date.
The Department of Children and Families is taking custody of the other children.
"Physically, just looking at him, he had a black eye. It was swollen shut, bruising above his neck and his body," said Chief Investigator Chuck Brannan of the 18-year-old.
Brannan said what they found inside the home was much more disturbing.
"He had at times been restrained, and chained, and locked up in a bedroom, physically, with a chain around his neck," he said.
Brannon said additional charges are pending.