TOCQUERVILLE, Utah - A Utah mother was arrested after investigators say she locked up her young son and nearly starved him to death.
Seasoned Washington County law enforcement officers describe the case as the worst example of child abuse they've ever seen.
The boy was locked in an upstairs bathroom for up to two years, according to investigators. KTVX reports the child was so emaciated, he could not stand on his own.
"I don't know how somebody could do this to their own child," said Lt. David Crause.
Two padlocks were on the outside of the bathroom door, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Office. Inside, the boy was found lying on the floor with a blanket in the dark.
"It's probably one of the most heinous cases I've ever seen in my career," Crause said.
Investigators said the boy's father found him Sunday night and took him to the hospital. The 12-year-old weighed just 30 pounds.
Deputies were immediately called and sent to his home in Toquerville.
There, they found a few empty cans of beans and a spoon in the shower. They also discovered a video camera and baby monitor taped to a shower ledge. They believe they were used to watch the boy while in captivity.
"As the facts of this come out, it was truly like a torture chamber," Crause said.
Brandy Jaynes, 36, was arrested for felony aggravated child abuse Monday. Two other children were removed from the home, and they were in healthy condition. John Hammer lives nearby and has given the two siblings rides home from the bus stop.
"All I've ever seen is the mom, the dad, and the two kids. I had no idea there was ever a third child. But if he was locked up for who knows how long, nobody around here, I'm sure, ever knew," Hammer said.
"You can't even comprehend that it even happened. I still can't comprehend it," neighbor Roger Lichfield said.
"It's heartbreaking. Oh my gosh, I feel like I neglected the child because I didn't know about it," neighbor Rosie Shoemaker said.
Doctors expect the boy to be treated at the hospital for at least three weeks.