A 7-year-old boy who Caroline County, Virginia, deputies say was abused by his pregnant mother and her boyfriend is in critical care at VCU Medical Center, according to KTLA sister station WTVR in Richmond, Virginia.
Investigators were trying to get a clearer picture of what the sheriff called "one of the worst abuse and neglect cases" he’s seen in his over 40-year career.
They executed a search warrant at the home where the boy lived with his mother, 29-year-old Ashley Karam and her boyfriend, 40-year-old Edward Childs.
Neighbor Lacey Collins said she had several interactions with the boy months ago at the bus stop. She had a gut feeling that something was wrong, but she didn't want to make the boy feel awkward.
"He mentioned that his back hurt, but I never checked him or anything,” she said. “I never knew."
The Caroline County Sheriff's Office got involved Sunday afternoon after a neighbor called saying the boy was at their home and had visible injuries.
Sources told WTVR that detectives believe the boy was left for extended periods of time at his home, bound by duct tape, surrounded by roaches and moldy walls. The sheriff said he had some old injuries and obvious new ones.
"I don't even want to describe what the young boy went through," Sheriff Tony Lippa said.
Karam and Childs have been charged with abduction, abuse and cruelty.
Karam has a history of child abuse dating back to 2012, with another child being removed from her care after she was convicted of abuse and disregard for life, WTVR reported. She was sentenced to five years in prison.
"He didn't need this. He was so sweet,” Collins said. “His mom would tell me he's bad, and I was like, ‘He's not bad,’ you know?”
Aram and Childs are being held at Pamunkey Regional Jail without bond.
An additional child found to be in the custody of the accused is now in protective custody, authorities said.