Detroit Boy Found in Father’s Basement Claims Mental and Physical Abuse


Court documents in the case of the Detroit 12-year-old who was missing for 11 days before being found in the basement of his father’s home reveal that Charlie Bothuell V’s father forced the boy to perform intensive workouts two times per day. The boy also claims that his father physically abused him by beating him with plastic PVC piping, and that his stepmother verbally and mentally abused and threatened him – at one point even punching him.

The workouts forced upon Charlie Bothuell V, as described in the Wayne County, Detroit,  juvenile court petition filed to terminate his father’s parental rights, included a regimen of 200 sit-ups, 100 jumping jacks, 100 push-ups, 25 bicep curls using 25-pound weights on each arm, and “thousands of revolutions” on an elliptical machine. The boy told a state agency that if he was unable to complete the workout in its entirety within an hour, he would be forced to begin it again. On some occasions, Bothuell V was in such pain from being hit with the piping that he could not complete the exercises.

Bothuell V was reported missing from the home in which he lived with his father and his wife on June 14. An extensive search was conducted by law enforcement that included multiple searches of the boy’s home, but he went undiscovered for 11 days before being found in the basement of the home that previously had been searched. According to the court petition, when Bothuell V was discovered by FBI agents and Detroit police behind the various storage containers which concealed him, he was hungry and cold. The documents also reveal that the boy’s body contained injuries throughout his body and scars on his buttocks and his chest which were caused by the pipe.  The injuries were often severe enough to impair Bothuell V’s ability to sit or to walk. During a search of the Bothuell home, a PVC pipe containing blood was discovered.

The boy’s father, Charlie Bothuell IV, and his stepmother, Monique Dillard-Bothuell, have not been charged, but they remain under investigation. The boy was released into the care of his mother and has been ordered by the court to undergo psychological testing and therapy. The court also suspended the visitation rights of Bothuell IV, who has maintained the position since his son was discovered that he was unaware that the boy was hiding in the basement and had no idea how the boy had gotten there. The Department of Human Services reports that the boy claims that his stepmother ordered him to go to the basement and to not come out because he was unable to complete one of the grueling required workouts.

According to investigators, Charlie remained silent out of fear while they searched the basement because his stepmother had threatened him with severe punishment if he made his presence known to anybody, telling him that she could “make [him] disappear.”  He survived the 11 days by creeping upstairs for food when he heard no activity in the home. He told the Michigan DHS that he became extremely excited when he realized that the police were going to move one of the boxes that hid him from view, because he knew he would soon be discovered.

Bothuell IV denies harming his son, while the lawyer for Dillard-Bothuell, Mark Magidson, denies that she abused her stepson in any way. He promised that any corporal punishment that may have been meted out will be readily understandable when the evidence is made available to the public.  As for the workouts, Magidson claims that because Charlie V was overweight and diabetes runs in the family, the boy was encouraged to exercise.

By Jennifer Pfalz

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