The father and stepmother who pull dark pranks on their children on the YouTube channel “DaddyOFive” have lost custody of two of their five children amid outrage about how the kids have been treated, PEOPLE confirms.
On Friday, Rose Hall, the children’s biological mother, gained temporary custody of two of the youngest children who appear in the controversial videos, Major Tim Clarke of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office confirms to PEOPLE.
The channel shows Michael and Heather Martins playing dark pranks on their five children, often swearing and screaming at them until they cry.
In a video she and her attorney posted on YouTube Monday, Hall says tearfully that it’s “very heartbreaking and disturbing” to see the videos.
On Friday, Hall went before the Frederick County Circuit Court to obtain emergency custody of Emma, 12, and Cody, 9, “so that they would be safe,” her attorney, Tim Conlon, says in the video.
Conlon tells PEOPLE that Hall is still trying to come to grips with how her children were allegedly treated when they lived with their father and stepmother.
“She was shell-shocked,” he says. “Even when she got the kids, it was almost unreal to her that finally, they were safe.”
In the video posted Monday, Hall thanked the YouTube users who had been calling for her children to be removed from the Maryland home of the Martins.
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Like many viewers, Hall had become increasingly concerned about the treatment of the children in the videos.
Even so, the videos had a big audience. As of Thursday, the channel had 762,000 subscribers.
Cody, Hall’s 9-year-old son with Michael Martin, was often the target of the pranks. In one video, Cody cries when his new computer tablet is destroyed – only to find out that it was a prank to see his reaction. His father, he learns at the end of the clip, had bought him another new one.
In a video posted on April 12, Michael Martin screams at Cody for spilling ink, which left the boy sobbing. Later, Heather Martin, Cody’s stepmother, reveals that she used invisible ink to make it appear that there was a stain.
The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office assisted in serving the emergency protective order Friday that gave custody to Hall and helped retrieve the children from the Martins, says Clarke.
Hall, who lives in North Carolina, told the Baltimore Sun Monday that she hadn’t seen her daughter Emma since 2015 and her son Cody since 2014 because of a custody battle with Michael Martin, her ex-boyfriend.
The Martins, who live in Ijamsville, Maryland, took to YouTube to apologize to their fans, saying in two new videos that the clips of them berating the children are scripted.
Last week, Heather Martin spoke to ABC News, saying, “We love our kids. They’re the most important thing in the world to us. We made poor parenting choices by portraying ourselves this way. But we are not bad people.”
Saying he was ashamed, Michael Martin added, “This just — it started out as family fun. It started with me and my kids … They would get excited when they would get a lot of views. You know, it was more for shock value. We were going for shock value.”
The couple has retained a crisis management and communications firm and is undergoing counseling to deal with the backlash, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Children Reunited with Family Members
Hall, who has had her two children back since Friday, says they are settling into life with her.
“They’re doing good,” she says in the video. “They’re getting back to their playful selves.”
They are also spending time with their extended family. “We went back to Emma and Cody’s home state of North Carolina,” she says in the video.
“They were reunited with their grandparents and their cousins and their aunts and uncles. They were happy to see them. Cody was starting to remember everybody.”
A hearing on the protective order will be held on Friday, says Conlon.
Hall and the Martins did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
Frederick County court authorities said they could not comment because the case is confidential.
The crisis management firm the Martins hired referred PEOPLE to the Martin’s attorney, Laurie Wasserman, who wrote in an email that she would not publicly comment.
Clarke says the sheriff’s office is investigating to see if any crimes have been committed.