PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania -- A married man beat and abused his two young children for years, even shocking them with an electric dog collar and jamming small blades under their nails, and fractured his wife's skull in an assault that sent her to a hospital, prosecutors said.
Joseph Myhre punched, kicked, choked and otherwise abused the boy, who's now 13, and the girl, who's 11, over the past six years, authorities said. He repeatedly struck the children with a wooden dowel or PVC pipe, shocked them with electric collars and stuck lancets under their fingernails and toenails, authorities said.
The children's rooms contained "closed-off wooden boxes for beds with a small opening and vents to let in air," Lower Providence Township police Detective Reginald Nealy Jr. said in an affidavit of probable cause.
The living room of the family's home in Collegeville, in suburban Philadelphia, contained two large whiteboards with "messages that were threatening and manipulative in nature," Nealy said without elaborating.
Police said they began investigating after Myhre's wife was assaulted and drove herself to a hospital on March 15 and was found to have a fractured skull.
Myhre is charged in Montgomery County with multiple counts of aggravated assault, strangulation, conspiracy, unlawful restraint and reckless endangering involving the children. He faces separate charges including assault, reckless endangering and harassment involving his wife.
Court documents don't list a defense attorney on the charges involving his children, and a listed phone number for him couldn't be found Monday. A public defender representing him on charges involving his wife didn't immediately return a call seeking comment on Monday.
Myhre never had a dog while he was married with children but acknowledged owning a dog shock collar, which was found in the home, Nealy said.
The boy described having the collar attached about 60 times, often on his legs or on his stomach.
"He usually put on a low number. It went to 1 to 100. It would be around a 40," the boy said, according to Nealy. "If he was angry he would put it up to 100, which really hurt and took all the feeling out of my legs which hurt."
The girl said the collar was put on her neck, arms and calf and in her hand. She also described being punched hundreds of times, having her fingers squeezed with pliers and being choked into a "dream state."
Police said Myhre, who was ordered held in lieu of $1 million bail, told them he grabbed the children and hit them with sticks but didn't intend to harm them and they never cried or said they were in pain.
Authorities, however, said a March 3 cellphone recording provided by Myhre's wife contains the sound of a child screaming "It hurts so much!" and repeated cries of "Please stop!" After the boy says he can't stand the pain, a male voice is heard saying "Good," authorities said.