(CBS/AP) MINNEAPOLIS - A Minnesota couple is accused of starving their 8-year-old adopted son. The boy was so malnourished his bones protruded and he weighed as much as a child half his age, according to a criminal complaint.
The complaint was filed Friday against Mona and Russell Hauer, who are charged with six felonies, including neglect and malicious punishment of a child. Authorities said they also beat the boy with a broom handle and made him sleep in a sled in the basement because he wet the bed.
According to the complaint, Mona Hauer brought the boy to Mayo Clinic Health Systems-Mankato on Oct. 9 because she thought he vomited blood. She said the boy had eating issues and had been regurgitating his food for months.
The boy weighed just about 34.8 pounds and was 3 feet, 5 inches tall - about the weight of an average 4-year-old, according to The Associated Press. The complaint said the boy was "very thin, his bones were protruding, and his abdomen was distended."
He was then transferred to Rochester and found to have a slow heartbeat, anemia, brain atrophy and delayed bone growth due to malnutrition, the complaint said. He remained hospitalized Friday and was on a diet to increase his weight. The hospital would not release his status Monday.
The Hauers also have a biological child and adopted two of the boy's siblings. Nicollet County Social Services officials would not comment on the case, or say whether the other children remained in the home.
The boy told officials the couple made him sit at the table and drink a liquid diet while the rest of the family ate. He said at times he was so hungry he ate dirty food from a compost site. He also told doctors he didn't brush his teeth and regurgitated his food "because he wanted the taste of food and he did not know when he would eat again," the complaint said.
In addition to starving the boy, the Hauers are also accused of putting an alarm on his door so that he would not steal food, giving him a bucket to go to the bathroom at night and having one of the other children hose him off two to three times a week with a garden hose, the complaint said.
The other children told authorities the boy was "naughty" and stole food, according to the complaint.
Mona Hauer, who home schools all the children, told authorities the family practices what she called "holistic medicine" and only goes to doctors in serious situations. She told authorities she put the boy on a liquid diet after talking with a chiropractor, according to the complaint.
The complaint said Mona Hauer told authorities the boy's eating habits were his "attempt to be in control of the home and that (he) had in fact controlled the home for some time." She also said she didn't think he was too thin.
Russell Hauer told medical staff that he and his wife withheld food from the boy at least once as a form of punishment, the complaint said. He also told officials the boy "had won or gotten his way" when he was taken to the hospital.