A Texas couple kept their bruised, malnourished five-year-old son in a diaper and locked him at home in a closet under the stairs, police said.
The tiny, blond-haired boy was severely underweight, his shoulder blades, ribs and vertebrae showing through his skin when officers found him late last week, the New York Daily News reported.
The boy would have continued to suffer had his stepbrother not told the police. The father Bradley Bleimeyer, 24, and the boy's stepmother, Tammi Bleimeyer, 33, were arrested on Friday.
The police discovered the locked closet after being called to the home following an argument between the father and his 16-year-old stepson.
The teenager had allegedly objected to his younger stepbrother being kept under the stairs.
The child's stepmother fled with the boy before officers arrived, according to news website click2houston.
The stepmother, who is six months' pregnant, refused to return home when the police contacted her. She was tracked to a motel where she was found with the boy, who was then taken to hospital.
She was charged with endangering a child and has been released on bail.
The father, who was already out on bond for a burglary charge, was also charged with endangering a child. He has had prior convictions, reports said. He is being held without bail.
He is the biological father of the five-year-old. His expectant wife is the biological mother of six children including the 16-year-old boy.
Said assistant chief deputy Mark Herman: "(The boy) was severely under nourished, bone sticking out, bumps, bruises. His skin was coming off on his back. It's a horrific, horrific situation."
This article was published on April 2 in The New Paper.
Get The New Paper for more stories.