SMITHS STATION, Ala. (WRBL) – Lee County Sheriff’s deputies say an east Alabama couple is under arrest after they forced the woman’s pre-teen son to live in the backyard over the summer. When deputies discovered the child, they say he was soaking wet, caked in dirt, and covered with insect bites, and poison ivy. 

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones says 30-year-old Corey Barber and her husband 30-year-old Shane Morris were indicted by a Lee County Grand Jury in October on allegations of Felony Aggravated Child Abuse. The couple was initially arrested on misdemeanor child endangerment in July. A grand jury upgraded the charges in October.

“This stems from an incident back in July when sheriff’s investigators received a report that a preteen child was being kept in a tent in the backyard, and not allowed to be in the residence,” said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones.

According to court documents deputies visited the couple’s Smiths Station home on July 21st after a concerned relative notified authorities. The couple told deputies the child was staying outside for three weeks because he wanted to move out and wouldn’t follow rules.According to court documents, the child told deputies he wanted to move out after his stepfather hit him with a bowl. The child also said he didn’t think he could survive outside anymore.  Deputies reported he had a sleeping bag and a tent that collapsed in the rain.

“He was out there at least several days at a minimum possibly a couple of weeks,” said Sheriff Jones. 

When deputies discovered the child, they described him as being soaking wet, with his hands pruned and wrinkled. The was dirty, apparently unable to use an indoor bathroom. He was also covered with insect bites and poison ivy. He told deputies the sores on his arms came from scratching.

“He was provided food. But just the bare minimum, such as peanut butter and bread,” said Sheriff Jones. 

According to court documents when Barber found out the Department of Human Resources had been called she allegedly told her son in front of deputies DHR could have him and to look for her when he turned 18.

“You are talking about a pre-teen child being treated this way by his family. Obviously, there are some issues there. A child’s welfare should be paramount and it doesn’t appear that was the case here according to our investigation,” said Sheriff Jones.

Under DHR guidance the children were removed from the home. 

As of Friday, December 3, Morris remains behind bars on a $30,000 bond. Barber is out after posting a $30,000 bond. WRBL will keep you updated on court proceedings.