Police say the three men were asked by a mother to give her 13-year-old son "guidance." The pastor and two of his followers could face years behind bars for their alleged actions.
Police say the boy's mother, 30, brought the 13-year-old to a men's home in Corona run by Heart of Worship Community Church on March 18, asking the people there to discipline her son. Police said she had hoped the people running the home would help discipline her son, who had been misbehaving.
Police say that's when Pastor Lonnie Remmers, 54, ordered two church members, Nick Craig, 22, and Darryll Jeter, 28, to drive the boy more than 100 miles north to Barstow.
Police say there, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the desert, they told the boy that they were going to kill him and ordered him to use a shovel to dig his own grave. Police say they made him get into the hole while they beat him with a belt.
"I can't imagine what the child was going through. He's obviously frightened. It's not the type of discipline that we impose on our kids," said Corona Police Sgt. Frank Barron.
Police say later back at the group home the two men zip-tied the boy to a chair and pepper-sprayed him, then left him there for an hour.
The group home is located across the street from an elementary school.
Police say Remmers also took the boy to his home on the other side of Corona where he allegedly used a pair of pliers on his body during bible study.
Police don't know how long the church has been operating the group home. They say they aren't sure whether this is an isolated incident. The home is located on the 700 block of West 10th Street, just across the street from Jefferson Elementary School.
Craig and Jeters were booked on suspicion of kidnapping, torture, abuse of a child and conspiracy. Remmers was being held on suspicion of torture, child abuse and conspiracy. They were held in lieu of $1 million bail. Remmers could get seven years in prison. Craig and Jeter could receive 19 years in prison.
The boy has been placed in custody of Child Protective Services with his 7-year-old sister. Police say the boy's mother is staying at a women's home run by the same church.
If you have information about the suspects or the group home, contact Corona Police at (951) 817-5837.