ROY, Utah -- Authorities say Utah foster parents charged with child abuse locked three boys in a room for hours at a time and zip tied their wrists and put tape over their mouths.
The Standard-Examiner of Ogden reports that 39-year-old Matthew Earl Waldmiller and 40-year-old Diane Seifert Waldmiller have been charged with three counts each of child abuse.
Charging documents filed Tuesday reveal the couple is accused of keeping the boys -- between 7 and 11 years old -- in a room with no lightbulb or ventilation for 10-13 hours at a time. The window of the room was painted black and screwed shut, investigators said, CBS affiliate KUTV reported.
The children didn’t have bedding and were wearing diapers, according to KUTV. The foster parents disciplined them by forcing them to eat rice that had too much salt and cayenne pepper added, officials said. The boys would not be allowed water after 2 p.m., according to authorities.
The boys described being beaten, forced to exercise for food and having their clothing taken if they cried, authorities said. They were underweight, according to a nurse practitioner.
An attorney for Matthew Earl Waldmiller could not be reached. Diane Seifert Waldmiller’s attorney declined comment. The two were taken into police custody on Sunday night, KUTV reports, and are being held in Weber County Jail.
“These people need to be responsible for what they did!” said Tamey Boles, the victims’ biological grandmother. “You don’t do this to children. It’s not right.”
Boles was unable to take custody of her two biological grandsons and their 11-year-old foster brother because of a medical condition, KUTV reported. When the boys’ mother died four years ago, Mary Ellen Watterson and her husband became foster parents and kept in touch with Boles, who lives in Boise, Idaho.
Diane and Matthew Waldmiller took over as foster parents two years ago and cut ties with the boys’ relatives and the Wattersons.
“The judge said in court that these boys need to have a relationship with their grandmother, no matter what. And they didn’t do that,” said Mary Ellen Watterson.