Last week, Arkansas police arrested a couple for allegedly starving and beating a 4-year-old girl who told authorities her name was “Idiot,” PEOPLE confirms.
According to arrest affidavits, the malnourished 4-year-old’s mother, 30-year-old Jennifer Denen, and the mother’s live-in boyfriend, Clarence Reed, 47, have each been charged with domestic battery, permitting abuse of a minor and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Investigators allege Reed referred to the child only as “Idiot,” leading the little gAirl to think that was her name. When officers first found her, they found deep bruising on parts of her body. She also had a black eye, a cut on her forehead and one of her eyes was swollen.
Police also found healing scars across much of her back as well as dried blood in the corner of her mouth and ligature marks on her wrist.
Arrest affidavits say Reed regularly zip-tied the child to her bed as a form of punishment.
Officers were dispatched last week to the Cooper-Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center in Hot Springs, where a staff member expressed her concerns about the 4-year-old girl’s living situation. (The reason why the parents were at the center is unclear.)
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Reed and Denen were at the center as police arrived, and both were taken into custody.
According to arrest affidavits, Denen told police she’d seen Reed hitting the girl with a plastic bat. Reed allegedly admitted hitting the child, but insisted he used a half-inch-thick wooden paddle instead of a plastic bat.
He also allegedly admitted zip-tying the child to punish her for climbing on the kitchen cabinets. Reed also allegedly told police he called the girl “Idiot,” but meant it as a joke.
Six children were removed from the couple’s home, including an 11-month-old, who is Denen’s only child with Reed.
Police tell PEOPLE the 4-year-old girl and the 11-month-old are now in the custody of the Department of Human Services.
The four other children were turned over to their biological father.
Reed and Denen have yet to enter pleas to the charges against them and records show they’ve yet to retain legal counsel.