Michigan boy held in basement says stepmother led him to hiding spot

Reuters News
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Posted: May 06, 2015 2:14 PM

By Serena Maria Daniels

DETROIT (Reuters) - A Michigan boy who was found emaciated in his own basement after an 11-day manhunt last year told a court on Wednesday that his stepmother led him to a downstairs hiding spot and urged him to remain quiet while authorities searched for him.

The boy, who was 12 years old at the time and is now 13, testified that he spent the days sneaking food and that he listened in silence when police came to the home to search for him.

The Wayne County Circuit Court hearing is being held to determine whether the boy's father, Charles Bothuell IV, 46, and his stepmother, Monique Dillard-Bothuell, 37, should stand trial on charges of torture and second-degree child abuse.

A conviction on torture charges carries a sentence of up to life in prison, and second-degree child abuse carries up to four years.

The boy is not being identified because he is a child victim of a crime.

On Wednesday, the boy said his stepmother one day accused him of cutting his daily exercise routine short when he took a bathroom break. She then led him down to the basement to a hiding spot cleared for him behind a stack of boxes.

"I didn't know what was going to happen to me if I didn't listen," the boy testified, adding that Dillard-Bothuell had threatened to kill him in the past.

The boy said his stepmother told him to "shut up and don't do anything."

She did not say how long he was expected to remain confined to the basement. That first evening, he overheard her talking to his father on the telephone, telling him the boy was missing, the boy testified.

A search was launched on June 14 after the boy's father and stepmother reported him missing. He was found in the basement 11 days later by a Michigan State Police sergeant and an FBI agent.

The boy previously testified that he was forced to exercise for up to two hours every morning and again each night, and if he faltered he was struck by a plastic pipe or wooden stick, or forced to stand with his arms over his head in a corner.

The routine rarely wavered from November 2011 until his parents reported him missing. The boy reached a breaking point in May 2014 and attempted suicide, he previously testified.

Defense attorney Shawn Patrick Smith has told reporters that the child's testimony seemed coached and not credible, saying the boy had wanted to live with his mother.

(Reporting by Serena Maria Daniels; Editing by David Bailey and Emily Stephenson)