Detroit boy missing for nearly 2 weeks says he hid in basement out of fear
DETROIT (CNN) — A search for a 12-year-old missing Detroit boy went on for 11 days before he was mysteriously found in the basement of his own home. Now, the boy says he hid there to avoid punishment for failing to complete a severe workout routine.
The boy, Charlie Bothuell V, said in court document that twice each day he was forced to do 100 push-ups, 200 sit-ups and 100 jumping jacks. He told child welfare investigators in Michigan that he’d have to curl a 25-pound weight on each arm and do 5,000 revolutions on an exercise machine, and if he didn’t finish in less than an hour, he’d have to do the routine again, according a petition filed in Wayne County court in Michigan this week.
The Detroit boy said that he feared being “in trouble again” for not completing his work-out routine. Sometimes he couldn’t finish because he was in too much pain, he said.
Charlie made national news in June when his father Charlie Bothuell IV said his son went missing for 11 days, prompting a search that involved the FBI and that ended bizarrely when the child turned up barricaded in his father’s basement.
This week, Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody reiterated how surprised police were that the boy turned up in the basement. He told CNN, “It’s possible” that investigators “didn’t see” the boy while they searched the home from attic to basement.
The department is reviewing its procedures, he added.
A petition, signed Monday and filed in Wayne County juvenile court, describes allegations of abuse that the boy says he endured from his father and stepmother, Monique Arnel Dillard-Bothuell.
Neither have been charged; in fact, no one has been charged with anything in the case.
Blood found on PVC pipe
Wayne County child protective services opened an investigation of the family June 23 as FBI agents were looking into the boy’s disappearance.
Petitions seeking state custody of Charlie and his younger siblings were filed this week. They say that on June 23, the father “disclosed physically disciplining Charlie V with a PVC pipe. An FBI search of the home produced the PVC pipe with which Charlie V was disciplined. It was disclosed that blood was found on the pipe.”
On June 25, the documents say, the boy was found in the basement of the Bothuell home. He was taken to a hospital and a doctor examined him, finding a “half circular scar” on the 12-year-old’s chest.
The boy said that scar was a “result of his father driving a PVC pipe into his chest.” The child was “also observed to have old scars on his buttocks from being hit with the pipe,” the document states.
Boy says he heard authorities searching
Representatives from the state’s protective services agency witnessed two forensic interviews of the boy, according to the petitions, including an FBI interview on July 1. Charlie V made numerous allegations, saying that he was disciplined with a PVC pipe to the point that he was too sore to walk or sit and that he’d been punched by his stepmother who, he said, told him, “I can make you disappear.”
The boy said that the stepmother accused him of lying about whether he’d finished his workout, and put him in the basement on June 14.
The boy told interviewers that he showered and put on his pajamas for the evening before entering the kitchen where his stepmother was “very upset regarding the workout,” the petition states.
“Charlie V reported Mrs. Dillard-Bothuell’s voice was angry. Charlie V felt as if he did not have a choice, so he did as he was told,” it continues. “Charlie V followed Mrs. Dillard-Bothuell to the basement. She then led Charlie V to the back of the basement” and gestured to an area along a wall. The boy said that she told him, “There, back there, go!”
The petition states the boy said he climbed over a drum and that she added boxes to conceal him, and then went upstairs, called his father and said that the boy was missing, that she’d looked “everywhere” for him. Police said it was a 55-gallon drum, clarifying the petition’s description as a “5-gallon” drum.
When the stepmother came down to the basement, the petition says, she would approach the area where the boy was and say, “Shut up, stay quiet and don’t say anything no matter what you hear!”
“Charlie V reported Mrs. Dillard-Bothuell never brought him food, or anything to drink the entire time he was in the basement,” the petition states. When the house fell silent, he would run upstairs to grab food.
The boy told interviewers that he heard authorities come to the house while he was in the basement.
The Wayne County prosecutor’s office will decide whether criminal charges will be filed but had no public statement Thursday.
Police were not commenting on the boy’s whereabouts beyond telling CNN that he is living with a relative for the time being.
Another hearing is scheduled for July 17.