Years of neglect? Greendale mother accused of tying her young son, who has autism, to a bed

MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- A 49-year-old Greendale mother is facing child neglect charges, accused of tying her son (who has autism) to a bed on at least two occasions. The criminal complaint indicates an officer found the boy alone in an apartment, tied to a bed, and a neighbor told investigators the mother "had done this more than 100 times."

The charges filed in this case include felony child neglect (bodily harm) and misdemeanor child neglect.

FOX6 News is not naming the mother in order to protect her son.

A criminal complaint filed in this case indicates on July 21st, Greendale police initiated an investigation into the possible maltreatment of a 12-year-old child who has autism and is non-verbal and not toilet trained. He also suffers from a seizure disorder.

Police were called by officials with the "Child Protection Center" at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. The child was taken to the Child Protection Center by a social worker with the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare.

The social worker was notified by staff at "La Causa" (a social services agency that provides shelter, education and emotional support for neglected and abused children) that the child had been dropped off for respite care on July 18th, and that he had "visible ligature bruising" to his ankle.

The boy was examined by a nurse practitioner with the Child Protection Center at Children's Hospital, and that nurse practitioner observed "ligature shaped injuries" around both of the boy's ankles -- with the bruising to his right ankle worse than the bruising to his left ankle.

The nurse practitioner indicated the boy's injuries were "highly concerning for abuse," and "consistent with being forcibly restrained."

The complaint indicates a social worker confronted the boy's mother about his injuries, and that she had "multiple explanations," including that the boy cut his leg on a glass plate, that a bandage she had place on him was too tight, and that his socks were too tight.

Later that day, a detective went to the boy's home -- a one-bedroom apartment in Greendale.

There, the detective found a queen-sized bed pushed into a corner of the room, and in another corner, a large eye bolt screwed into the floorboards with two bungee cords attached. The complaint indicates two large knots were holding the bungee cords together -- and the bungee cords were attached to a twin bed.

The complaint indicates the room had a strong odor of urine, and there were urine stains on the twin mattress.

The boy's mother told the detective the bungee cords were attached to the bed because the boy likes to pick up the bed and throw it, but shortly thereafter, she changed her statement to indicate she uses the bungee cords to keep the boy out of the refrigerator, according to the complaint.

The boy's mother was interviewed by officials, and the complaint indicates she again said the boy's injuries were a result of him cutting himself with a plate, and a too-tight bandage and too-tight socks.

She said this first happened to his left ankle, but later stated it was his right ankle, police say.

As for the injury to the boy's left ankle, the complaint indicates the boy's mother said she "used to tie the boy to a handicap chair while she would shower or cook" so that "he would not injure himself." The mother indicated the ligature bruising to the boy's right ankle was from tying him to the handicap chair, and that the bruising never went away.

The misdemeanor charge filed in this case relates to similar allegations dating back to 2012, when the child was eight years old.

The complaint indicates in February of 2012, Milwaukee police were called out to a home on S. 1st Street to check on a child who was reportedly tied up in an apartment.

An officer looked into a window of the apartment and observed the boy sleeping on a bed -- tied to the bed by his ankle, according to the complaint.

The officer entered the apartment, and observed the boy was alone in the home -- tied to the bed with a cloth strap.

Shortly thereafter, the boy's mother came home -- and told the officer she and her adult daughter need to go to an appointment and the boy was sleeping, so they tied him to the bed and left him alone, according to the complaint.

A neighbor called his friend, who then called 911 after observing the boy's mother leaving the home without her son.

The neighbor's friend told police he had seen the mother leave her child at home alone "over 100 times before" -- telling police he told the mother: "This is not Iraq. You cannot leave your child alone."

The boy's mother has a preliminary hearing scheduled for August 11th. Court records show she is currently out of custody on a signature bond. She has been ordered to have no contact with her son.

Property managers at the family's apartment building tell FOX6 News the boy no longer lives with his mother.