A Utah mom faces child abuse charges for allegedly locking her 12-year-old son in a pitch-black bathroom of her home for at least one year, PEOPLE confirms.
The boy, now under the care of physicians, was allegedly so malnourished he weighed only 30 pounds and was incapable of standing on his own, Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. David Crouse tells PEOPLE.
Likening his alleged living conditions to a “torture chamber,” Crouse believes the boy might have been in the bathroom of the Toquerville home for two years.
“It was like a horror movie you expect to see out of Hollywood,” Crouse says. “It was a small bathroom with feces and urine all over the floor.”
In addition, authorities allege the bathroom’s lights were kept off, with the switches secured in place under several layers of duct tape.
On Monday, police charged the boy’s mother, Brandy Jaynes, 36, with felony child abuse. Crouse says that the boy’s condition is improving. Doctors have yet to deliver a prognosis on his recovery time.
“We are just at the tip of the iceberg here as far as how and why this happened and how it will affect the child long term,” Crouse says, noting his department’s investigation continues. “We want to interview everyone involved. We don’t want to miss any angle on this.”
Detectives found a wireless camera in the bathroom and allege Jaynes used it to monitor the boy through an app on her smartphone.
There was also a baby monitor inside the bathroom, allegedly so Jaynes could relay instructions to her child. Police found empty cans of beans and a spoon in the shower and allege the shower’s drain was also sealed with duct tape.
Crouse compares the child’s living conditions to “a horrific incarceration in a third world country, where they just toss you in some food now and then.”
Crouse confirms investigators have been speaking with the boy’s father, who allegedly found him lying on the bathroom and rushed him to a nearby hospital. Crouse says the boy’s parents are married but separated, and adds police are not ruling out other persons of interest.
Jaynes has yet to enter a plea to the charge against her and it was unclear Wednesday if she had legal representation.
According to Crouse, the boy was allegedly taken out of school three years ago. He has two siblings who appear to be healthy, showing no signs of abuse, Crouse says. It remains unclear how much the siblings knew about what was allegedly happening, Crouse says.
As a policeman, Crouse says he has been to several disturbing crime scenes over the course of his career. The images of the dirty bathroom and the underweight boy will haunt him, he says.
“I wish I could unsee it.”