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Granny Charged With Keeping 19-Year-Old Grandson Chained To Bed

CORAL SPRINGS (CBSMiami) – A Coral Springs woman has bonded out of jail after being charged with chaining her 19-year-old mentally challenged grandson to his bed at night for the past three years.

Shirley Mathis, 58, was arrested Friday, January 6th, nearly three weeks after police and investigators from the Department of Children and Families found the woman's 19-year-old grandson chained to a bed in a room.

It was on December 26, 2011 that Coral Springs police and DCF investigators found the 19-year-old confined to his bedroom with a heavy gauge metal link chain that went from around his waist to a metal bunk bed frame with five locks, according to the police report.

"He only had four feet of slack in it so he couldn't leave through the window," said Coral Springs police spokesman Lt. Joe McHugh.

McHugh said when he first saw him the chained teen was calmly reading a book.

"It was inhumane being chained like an animal," said McHugh.  "He said he needs to be chained because he has behavior issues.  When we asked him 'Where do you go to the bathroom' he said a buck is placed in the room and he goes inside the bucket."

The report stated the room smelled of urine and was covered with plastic rug protectors.  The also found the small bucket the teen used to relieve himself.

The report stated the 19-year-old and a younger brother would be locked in the room at night and the door would be unlocked in the morning by his grandmother who he calls "mom". The 19-year-old and his two younger siblings have been in her care since 1997.

When police found the 19-year-old, Mathis was in North Carolina with her fiancé, Preston Billings.

Police said she had arranged for a family friend, Kimberly Cooper to chain the grandson to his bed every night and unlock the chains in the morning while she was gone.

The grandson told police "he deserved to be chained to the bed and it was for his own good." He told police, "he would leave the home in the middle of the night and break into neighboring homes to steal food if he was not chained."

It was noted in the report that two refrigerators and a pantry in the home were also locked shut, along with the grandmother and a sister's bedroom.

While talking to officers, the grandson became agitated when he found out he couldn't talk to his grandmother. The affidavit stated he rushed at officers. They restrained him until he calmed down but he became upset again and grabbed a broken broom stick and tried to strike an officer.

Police realized he posed a threat to himself and others and he was hospitalized under the Baker Act so he could undergo a mental health evaluation.

The report also stated the 19-year-old has reported prior mental health issues and post traumatic stress disorder.

Mathis told police on December 28th that she first chained her grandson after an incident in 2008 when he committed a burglary while attempting to steal food. She said her landlord threatened to evict her if there were any other incidents. Mathis stated she chained up her grandson due to her fear of the family being evicted, said police.

A 16-year-old sister and 14-year-old brother have been removed from the home and are currently in foster care.

The 19-year-old remains hospitalized and has since broken his arm during an incident at the hospital that required him to be subdued and restrained by hospital staff, according to police.

Mathis was charged with Aggravated Abuse of a Disabled Adult, Abuse of a Disabled Adult, Aggravated Child Abuse and False Imprisonment.

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