Sheriff: East Alabama child forced to live outside, parents charged

SMITHS STATION, Alabama (WRBL) — Lee County Sheriff’s Deputies say an east Alabama couple have been arrested after they forced the woman’s teenage son to live in their backyard for the summer. When MPs spotted the child, they said he was soaking wet, caked with dirt and covered in insect bites and poison ivy.

Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said Corey Barber, 30, and her husband, Shane Morris, 30, were indicted by a Lee County grand jury in October on charges of aggravated child molestation. The couple was initially arrested in July for child endangerment. A grand jury upped the charges in October.

“This follows an incident in July when sheriff’s investigators received a report that a teenaged child was being held in a tent in the backyard and was not allowed in the residence,” Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones said.

According to court documents, lawmakers visited the couple’s Smiths Station home on July 21 after a concerned relative notified authorities. The couple told MPs the child was staying out for three weeks because she wanted to move out and wasn’t playing by the 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 no longer believed he could survive outside. MPs reported he had a sleeping bag and a tent that collapsed in the rain.

“He was out there for at least a couple of days or at least a couple of weeks,” Sheriff Jones said.

When MPs discovered the child, they described him as soaking wet, with circumcised and wrinkled hands. That was dirty, apparently unable to use an indoor bathroom. It was also covered in insect bites and poison ivy. He told MPs the sores on his arms were from scratching.

“He was given food. But only the essentials, like peanut butter and bread,” said Sheriff Jones.

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

“You are talking about a teenage child being treated like this by his family. Obviously there are some problems there. A child’s best interests should come first, and from our investigation that does not appear to be the case here,” said Sheriff Jones.

Under DHR leadership, 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 $30,000 bail. WRBL keeps you informed of legal proceedings.