NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (WCCO) — A North Mankato couple allegedly starved their adopted son to the point that the 8-year-old weighed just under 35 pounds, according to newly filed criminal charges.
The abuse was carried out in full view of the boy’s three siblings, the criminal complaint says.
Mona and Russell Hauer, both 44, have been charged in Nicollet County with six felony counts of neglect, malicious punishment and endangerment of a child, as well as aiding and abetting neglect or endangerment.
Authorities were alerted to the child’s possible abuse after he was taken to Mayo Clinic Health Systems in Mankato on Oct. 9. The boy was vomiting blood, his stomach was distended and he was found to be below the 3rd percentile for his age in both height and weight. He was only 3 feet, 5 inches tall.
Doctors also noted his bones protruding, low counts on hemoglobin, red blood cells, potassium, chloride, alkaline phosphates, glucose and creatine. His teeth had been stripped of enamel from vomiting, according to the complaint. Doctors diagnosed him with anemia, a slower than normal heart beat, and “failure to thrive.”
Human services initiated an investigation into the boy’s condition.
Mona Hauer told authorities that the boy was on a liquid diet because he had problems with vomiting, and that he also would sneak out of his bed — which the charges describe as a plastic sled with a board underneath it inside a room retrofitted with an alarm so his parents would know if he was trying to sneak out — to “steal food.”
All four of the Hauer’s children — one biological, the other three adopted — reported being struck by their parents with either 2-by-4 boards or a broom handle whenever they “misbehaved,” but they said the 8-year-old boy was struck the most often.
All four were homeschooled by the Hauers. The complaint says the other three categorically blamed the 8-year-old boy for “all the family troubles,” saying he was “naughty” and would steal food not just from the refrigerator, but also the bird feeder out back as well as the family’s compost pile.
Each of the six counts against Russell and Mona Hauer carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $10,000 in fines upon conviction.