Woman accused of abusing 19-year-old grandson
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (WSVN) -- A South Florida grandmother accused of abusing her grandson is speaking exclusively with 7News about the alarming allegations.
Someone put in a call to the Abuse Hotline and informed investigators to check out 58-year-old Shirly Mathis' Coral Springs home. When Coral Springs Police Lt. Joe McHugh went inside the home, he found a 19-year-old man chained to a bed in one of the rooms. "This was the most disturbing thing I've ever seen so far as a police officer, I can honestly say," McHugh said. "He was in a fog, he really was in a fog. He was just confused about everything."
The 19-year-old was Mathis' grandson, Kenny, and police have accused Mathis of chaining him to the bed. "I love Kenny very much," Mathis said, "and he knows that I've been there every since his mother abused him."
Mathis was arrested on Friday. In bond court, a judge read out the charges against her. "Cruelty to a child, torture and punishment, endangering a child with false imprisonment..."
She is now out on bail and spoke with 7News about the accusations. "I only loved him. I never abused him," she said.
According to Mathis, her grandson is mentally disabled, and she only used the metal chain to prevent her grandson from getting out of his bedroom and burglarizing homes in the area. "It was for his own good and his own health and his own safety," said Mathis.
However, police said, the 19-year-old was chained to the bed for years and had to use a bucket to relieve himself. McHugh said, "You can almost, when you walk in, smell urine inside the bedroom. It was sad, it was a sad situation."
The door to his room could also only be opened from the outside. "Which is an extreme fire hazard," McHugh said.
Inside the boy's room, authorities discovered the floors of the teen's bedroom were lined with plastic, and the refrigerator and pantry inside the home were locked. Mathis originally claimed she did not lock up the food, but she later admitted to doing so in an effort to prevent her grandson from stealing food.
Investigators are still stunned by the alleged happenings inside the Coral Springs residence. "What's this kid going to suffer mentally after being locked up in his bedroom every night for three years?" McHugh asked.
The 58-year-old grandmother said for the most part, she raised her grandson. When he was under his mother's care, Mathis said, he would be locked in a closet, where he would eat his own feces.
Now the case is in the hands of law enforcement and the Florida Department of Children and Families. "Any case where you have seen a family resort to such extreme measures to either provide care that they think is loving or otherwise, yes, that's a tragic case," said Mark Riordan, Director of Communications for DCF, "and that's why we're going to be working with them closely on the services but also conducting a thorough investigation to make sure that it stops, so that it doesn't continue."
The DCF happens to be familiar with this family. Kenny's 14-year-old brother and 16-year-old sister were removed from the home, and they are currently staying with non-relatives, in foster care.
The 19-year-old is currently being evaluated at a hospital. Once he is released, he is old enough to make his own decision about where he wants to go.
Mathis' defense attorney could have some material to work with, however. When investigators arrived, Kenny told them he understood why he needed to be chained up. He even resisted police and called out for his grandmother when they tried to lead him away. During the struggle, police said, the teen hit one of the officers with a broom handle.
His resistance did not end with police. When he got to the hospital he became so angry again he broke his own arm during a struggle.
Also, since he has capacity, if he chooses, he could testify on behalf of his grandmother in court.
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