Authorities found a frail 17-year-old boy handcuffed to a pole in his parents' Kansas City basement, where he said he'd been kept since his father withdrew him from school in September.
Police said Wednesday that they were still investigating and hadn't turned over any of their findings to prosecutors for consideration of possible charges. Police have not released the names of anyone involved in the case. The teen was placed in the custody of child services.
Police say someone close to the teen's family said he was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and severe attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.
Though no excuse, it does raise the issue of lesser abuse that therapists see from parents overwhelmed and unaware of the resources available to them.
"Some people are unwilling to say, 'I can't help my child right now,'" therapist Susan Howard-Perry said.
The teen's diagnosis that police describe is a double whammy of difficult to live with, Howard-Perry says, because some of those children get very violent.
According to a police report, an officer and social worker who were acting on a phoned-in tip visited the family's Northland home in the 4000 block of North Wheeling Avenue on Monday. When they entered the basement, they heard someone cry out, "I didn't do anything. I didn't do anything. I didn't do anything."
"I then observed a thin frail looking male getting out of the fetal position on the concrete floor around a steel support pole," Officer Jonathan Stone wrote in the report.
The teen was handcuffed to the pole and looked very thin for his height, with a sunken face and eyes that "had a look of desperation."
After police freed the shivering boy from the handcuffs and helped him calm down, he said he had been kept in the basement since September, when his father removed him from school. He said he was initially "just locked in the basement, but was not fed much."
He told police that in October, he managed to get out of the basement and get food, which angered his father, who tried handcuffing both his hands to a bed frame in a "cross position, but his arms were not long enough."
The teen said he managed to take apart the bed in November and used a bed rail to break open the door, but he didn't manage find food. He told police that this time his father removed the bed from the basement and handcuffed him to the pole.
He told police that his father would wake him each day at 4 a.m. to use the bathroom and give him a packet of dried oatmeal. In the afternoon, he would again be allowed to use the bathroom and would get a packet of noodles to eat. Later, he would get two bologna sandwiches and a glass of water before being locked up for the night.
Another adult in the home told police that the teen was "locked downstairs because in December they let him upstairs and he ate almost an entire bowl of fruit at one time."
"This is not typical behavior of a parent-child relationship where the parents' intent is to help treat this child," Howard-Perry said. "It may not have started out as an attempt to help or treat. It may just simply be a case of abuse."
But Howard-Perry has treated a number of loving parents who have crossed the line.
"Some parents, in their attempt to help the child, it turns into abuse," she said.
And finding help isn't always easy, Howard-Perry, said, even if they get past barriers to acknowledge they need it.
"In most cases parents are doing whatever they can to help these children but let's face it, it's frustrating to seek help for your child and you keep running into dead ends and so finally parents just take measures into their own hands," Howard-Perry said.
However, the key is not to give up.
The case comes several months after Kansas City police found a 32-pound girl barricaded inside a closet that reeked of urine. That child's mother is scheduled for trial in June on assault, child abuse and child endangerment charges. The mother's 35-year-old boyfriend pleaded guilty in October to endangering the child and was sentenced to five years' probation.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.