AUTAUGA COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Child abuse suspects Danielle Nicole Martin, Joshua Daniel Martin, and Vickie Seale Higginbotham made their first appearance in Autauga County District Court Monday.
The three defendants are charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse and are all being held on a $60,000 cash bond, the maximum for the Class B felony counts they face. Authorities say they are the victim’s relatives and lived in the same house.
The defendants were arrested late Thursday after Autauga County Deputies received an anonymous call that a child was being chained up on County Road 46, about an hour north of Montgomery. Deputies quickly responded to the house and found a 13-year-old boy naked, chained with padlocks around his ankles.
During Monday’s initial appearance, investigators testified the boy was forced to sleep in a dog kennel at various times over the last two years.
The victim was removed from the house and taken into the custody of the Alabama Department of Human Resources. He’s currently being treated for malnutrition at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, where he was taken last week.
Two other juveniles, who are half-siblings, were also removed from the home. There were no signs of apparent abuse, but they are also undergoing health screenings and are in DHR custody.
Investigators said the children are home schooled but there’s little indication they came in contact with any mandatory reporters, trained to recognize signs of child abuse.
As the investigation is in the initial stages, it’s unclear if additional arrests or charges are forthcoming.
The defendants remain in the Autauga Metro Jail.