Boy Found in Basement Alleges Long-Term Abuse by Parents

Charlie Bothuell, 12, was found in his own basement 11 days after he was reported missing

Photo: Detroit Police Department/AP

When a 12-year-old Detroit boy went missing on June 14 and was found 11 days later, it should have been a day to rejoice. Instead, his discovery in the family's basement has turned into weeks of unanswered questions, with some unsettling information about what the child's life may have been like.

In a petition filed July 7 in the family division of Wayne County by the Department of Human Services, 12-year-old Charles "Charlie" Bothuell V alleges horrific abuses that he says he suffered at the hands of his father, Charles Bothuell IV, 45, and stepmother Monique Dillard-Bothuell, 36.

His father, Bothuell IV, was speaking live to HLN's Nancy Grace when he was told his child had been found in his home's basement.

Disciplined with a Pipe

Charlie was transported to Children's Hospital, where "he was observed to have a half circular scar on his chest that he reports being a result of his father driving a PVC pipe into his chest," the petition reads.

In a forensic interview conducted by the FBI on July 1, Charlie revealed that after being disciplined with the pipe, "he was often too sore to sit or walk," according to the petition. An FBI search of the home produced the pipe, which was found with blood on it.

When Charlie was discovered, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said he'd never seen anything like this case.

"We found him barricaded in the basement, behind boxes and a large drum," Craig told CNN affiliate WXYZ-TV. "There's no way he could have erected his makeshift area of concealment."

Charlie stated, according to the petition, that his stepmother led him to the back of the basement and pointed to an area along the wall, telling him, "there, back there, go!" He then reported hearing her go upstairs and call his father to say he was missing. During his 11 days in the basement, he would sneak upstairs to eat things that "would not be noticed as missing" such as protein shakes, Gatorade, water and Mountain Dew, he said.

Torturous Workouts

Twice each day, the boy was forced to do 100 push-ups, 200 sit-ups and 100 jumping jacks, according to the petition. He also said that he'd have to curl a 25-pound weight on each arm and do 5,000 revolutions on an elliptical trainer. If he didn't finish in less than an hour, he'd have to do the routine again.

Charlie said in interviews that there were times he was in too much pain to complete his workout, "due to being hit with the PVC pipe on his feet," the petition reads. "If he failed to complete the workout, he would 'be in trouble again.' "

The fate of the couple's two younger children, ages 4 and 10 months, may be determined later this week – the Department of Human Services has requested in the petition that the court terminate their parental rights and that the children be placed with DHS.

We Will Show the Truth

An attorney for Dillard-Bothuell says the allegations that she ordered her stepson into the basement don't "seem believable."

"We will peel it all back and ultimately show the truth," says Detroit attorney Mark Magidson, who is representing Dillard-Bothuell. "She allegedly ordered him into the basement, threatened him to not come out and he stayed down there for 11 days. Even listening to that statement doesn't seem believable. What 12-year-old boy is going to listen to his stepmom to stay in the basement for 11 days?"

Magidson further states that the family used corporal punishment as a form of discipline for the 12-year-old boy.

"There will be evidence of corporal punishment but they're not denying that and corporal punishment is legal," he says.

A Boy’s Fear

Alleging physical abuse, emotional/verbal abuse and physical neglect in the petition submitted by Wayne County DHS, Charlie said his stepmother didn't like him and had stated she "will f–––––– murder me."

"Unlike you, I know where the sharp knives are," Charlie said his stepmother told him, according to the petition. "I can make you disappear."

A hearing on the petition is scheduled for July 17.

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