By James Schugel, WCCO-TV

DEXTER, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — A southeastern Minnesota couple is accused of chaining their two sons to beds and withholding food.

Brian Dale Miller, 33, and Charity Lynn Miller, 26, of Dexter were charged in Mower County Court on Tuesday. Both face gross misdemeanor charges of child neglect, malicious punishment of a child, false imprisonment and child endangerment, a total of 14 charges in all.

According to the complaint, the Millers allegedly chained their 5- and 8-year-old sons to their beds and deprived them of food and access to the bathroom.

The older boy told police his parents do not allow him out of his bedroom. He recalled being spanked on his bare behind with a fly swatter and how it “really hurts.” He told police that he gets into trouble at school for stealing food from other kids.

Court documents say the 5-year-old weighs less than 30 pounds. Southland Elementary School staff reported that he’s extremely small for his age and malnourished.

He told the school’s staff about the alleged abuse, telling them that his parents chain him to his bed every night and when he gets home. The older boy said his younger brother cried every night.

Police noticed bruises around his ankles that were caused by, they say, a one-foot-long heavy metal chain and padlock. Police say they found the chain on the boy’s crib. He sleeps on a wood-based crib with no mattress, and the wood is saturated with urine, the complaint said.

According to the police, they found empty beer and pop cans on the floor and loose empty cans all over the counters. There were food encrusted dishes scattered in the sink, on the counter and on the stove. The living room was tidy, however, and contained no evidence of children’s toys or books.

A neighbor of the Millers said he can’t remember seeing or hearing children playing, even though two boys lived there.

“I never seen the kids,” said a neighbor of the Millers. “I was surprised when I found out they had children.”

When police went to the home, they say the boy’s mother, Charity, admitted knowing she was abusing her children, but blamed it on her husband. She’s a nurse in Mower County.

The Austin Daily Herald reports the Millers were arrested last week and released Monday after posting bail. Brian was arrested at work.

Authorities took the two boys to the Austin Medical Center to be examined. A doctor noticed bodily harm from the chaining, the complaint stated.

Now, both boys are in protective custody.

“I’m hoping they’re being taken care of like they should be,” said the neighbor.

The Millers are scheduled to enter their pleas May 12.

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