Authorities have charged a southern Minnesota couple with felony counts of child neglect and endangerment after finding their 8-year-old adopted son so malnourished that his bones were protruding.
Mona Alane Hauer, 44, and her husband, Russell Jerome Hauer, 44, of North Mankato, were charged Friday in Nicollet County District Court in St. Peter after the boy was brought to a Mankato hospital last month "extremely malnourished" and weighing less than 35 pounds, about half of what he should for his age.
According to criminal complaints:
Mona Hauer brought the boy to a Mankato hospital Oct. 9 after finding blood on his shirt.
She told emergency personnel that her son had been regurgitating food since December 2011 and that she had recently put him on a liquid diet after consulting with a doctor about his eating disorder.
She said she noticed he was losing weight in September, about the same time that a dentist noticed that the enamel in the boy's teeth was "starting to wear off" and that he had "sores" in his mouth.
She told an investigator that her son always had an issue with eating, but said she did not think he was too thin or realize he was so sick.
At the time of the boy's adoption, a doctor found he had experienced trauma that would require intensive psychotherapy. The doctor gave several recommendations, but the Hauers did not follow through, the complaint said.
Hauer told investigators her family practices "holistic medicine" and home-schools their children, including two of the 8-year-old's siblings whom they also had adopted.
When the boy was brought to the hospital, emergency workers found his bones protruding, his abdomen distended and his heartbeat slower than normal. Doctors later determined that the malnutrition caused delayed bone growth and brain atrophy.
The boy told investigators that at mealtime, he sat at a table and drank his liquid while his family ate whole food. Sometimes, he was so hungry that he ate at the compost site or from a bird feeder.
Investigators were told that to keep him from leaving his room and stealing food, his parents put an alarm on his door -- he slept by himself in the basement.
Because he had a problem with bed wetting, his parents made him sleep in a plastic, rounded container.
One sibling told investigators that it was his responsibility to hose the boy down several times a week.
The children told authorities that they were beaten with a "long board" or a "broom handle" when they misbehaved, but that the malnourished boy "was hit the most."
The Hauers could not be reached for comment Monday. They are scheduled to make their next court appearance Dec. 11.
Nicollet County Social Services officials would not comment on the case or say whether the other children remained in the home.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Richard Meryhew • 612-673-4425