Two Arrested On Child Neglect And Battery Charges

(BEDFORD) – Bedford Police officers arrested two people on Thursday on charges of child neglect and domestic battery on a child under the age of 14.

On the night of September 11, officers were called to the 500 block of Shandell Drive after a request to do a welfare check on a 12-year-old male.

The caller told police the male was living on the porch of the residence and the caller had a video of the abuse the male was suffering and sent that video to officers.

Melissa Carter

When police arrived they spoke with 46-year-old Melissa Carter. She told officers the boy was not home and staying with his grandparents in Fayetteville.

Christopher Carter

Melissa invited officers into her home to explain the situation along with her husband 46-year-old Christopher Carter.

Melissa took police to the porch area where her adopted 12-year-old son was “living.”

Police say the porch was not enclosed and had no roof. There were no screens or glass enclosure. There were several wooden chairs and a wooden swing on the porch. A green sleeping bag was left on one of the chairs. An electric fan was also on the porch.

When asked if the child lived on the porch, Melissa replied, “Well, by his actions, yes,” Christopher added “he lies, he steals, he cheats… and it’s a
survival technique.” They described the boy as being a “survivor” and having a “seared conscious.”

Christopher told police that he exercises his right to corporal punishment, but does not cause bruising or lasting damages to the boy. Christopher uses a paddle to “spank him on his hiney.” Christopher stated that he spoke with his attorney about having the stay on the porch, who cleared the idea. Christopher spoke of a conversation he had with the boy, telling him that if he cannot abide by the rules of the family, the boy would have to live outside until he is ready to follow the rules.

Christopher stated that when the boy has a breakdown, Melissa would “have to get cold water on him” to calm him down. He then mentioned
a video on his cellphone that he would share with officers.

Melissa told officers that the boy is allowed to roam throughout the backyard, but must stay within the fenced yard. The fence is approximately three feet tall. If the boy leaves the yard without permission, he forfeits a meal. She told police the boy receives three meals per day, plus snacks. She stated that the boy has an addictive personality and in the past, ate an entire pack of cinnamon gum.

Christopher added that the boy once stole six chocolates from a family member. Because of this behavior, he was forced to stay outside. The door on the rear porch that leads inside the home remains locked, with the boy still outside.

Melissa told police that she brings the boy food outside and will have conversations with him on the porch. She described it as being similar to visitation at a jail. She told police the boy has been staying on the porch for approximately one week. He is allowed inside the home to use the restroom and shower.

She told police the couple adopted the boy approximately 18 months ago.

The couple told police they attend church at Fayetteville Baptist Church, where they first met the boy and his mother. The boy’s grandmother lives next-door to the the church and the boy would walk to the church during events. The boy’s mother asked the Carters to adopt her son and they agreed.

The couple’s daughter was also at the home and told police the boy has tantrums and it is alarming and he screams. She told police the boy has hit and bite himself when he gets angry.

Police then learned about the contents of the video and the interview was stopped.

The video showed Melissa standing over the boy and holding him by the arms. Melissa is holding the boy down into a bathtub, head first. Melissa starts by using a green cup to pour water over the boy’s head. She then lifts him by the arms and places his head directly under the running faucet. She asked him several times “are you done?” but the boy did not reply using words. He continually screamed in discomfort. Melissa then told the boy to say “yes” and it would be over. The boy eventually muttered “yes” and Melissa lifted the boy from the tub and turned off the faucet.

Toward the end of the video, Christopher is heard narrating the video. He gets closer to the boy and says he will show the video to the boy’s teacher and school bus driver. “So she understands what we’re dealing with…but when you get home, you flip a switch. And this is (and says the boy’s name).” The video ends with Christopher and the boy having a back-and-forth about the boy getting sick. The video was recorded on Saturday September 5, 2020 at 6:01 p.m.

The couple explained to the officers that the boy was having a “meltdown” and this was a solution to calming him down. Christopher stated that the boy was being splashed with water, not being held under water. Melissa stated the cold water helps to cool him off. The couple said the video was recorded because the couple wanted to have protection. Christopher did not want false claims to be made that the boy was was being drowned. At the close of the conversation with officers, the Carters were advised that Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) would be contacted and information would be forwarded to a DCS Caseworker.

Officers then went to the boy’s grandparent’s home in Fayetteville. They told police they were aware the boy was living on the porch and they didn’t believe the boy was being physically abused at the Carter residence. The couple told police the boy was staying with them overnight but would be returning to the Carter’s home on September 12th.

Officers contacted the Department of Child Services and requested the child be detained due to the uncertainty of his treatment the Carter household.

The grandparents took the boy to the Bedford Police Department so he could be interviews and the boy was placed in the care of his grandparents until an emergency hearing could be held.

The information was sent to the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office and warrants were issued for the couple’s arrest.