A 13-year-old boy was starved and imprisoned by his mother, Dannielle Martin (left), his stepfather, Joshua Martin (right), and his grandmother, Vickie Higginbotham (center). The boy’s half-siblings—a 12-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy—were not reported to be abused. The children were homeschooled and had little contact with mandated reporters.
The abuse began at least as early as 2016, when Higginbotham regularly began to force the boy to sleep in a dog crate. He was also regularly chained to pieces of furniture. During the day he was forced to stay in a small room that was only big enough for a mattress on the floor. Joshua Martin claimed his long hours at work prevented him from noticing the abuse. Dannielle Martin, as a stay-at-home parent, did not have this excuse, but claimed she couldn’t stop Higginbotham.
The abuse came to light when the police investigated an anonymous tip and found the boy naked with chains padlocked around his ankles. He had worn the chains since the night before, purportedly as punishment for kicking his brother, who was uninjured. He was taken to the hospital to be treated for malnutrition. The Martins and Higginbotham were charged with aggravated child abuse. Higginbotham asked to take full responsibility for the crimes.
Date: September 20, 2018
Location: Prattville, Alabama