Parents are charged in torture of son, 14

Boy tells Harford deputies abuse was over videotapes

January 06, 2000|By Lisa Respers and Rafael Alvarez | Lisa Respers and Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

A Harford County couple were arrested yesterday afternoon and charged with torturing their 14-year-old son -- including handcuffing the child and then pouring boiling water on his body -- at their Edgewood home Tuesday night.

The teen-ager told sheriff's deputies that he was beaten and abused for not knowing the whereabouts of several videotapes.

Gwendolyn Massenberg, 34, and Anthony Massenberg, 29, of the 1700 block of Harbinger Trail were being held last night at the Harford County Detention Center on child abuse and assault charges, said a homicide detective in the sheriff's office.

Mrs. Massenberg is the teen's biological aunt, said Detective Thomas F. Walsh. The Massenbergs took in the boy and his two siblings as foster children, Walsh said, and adopted the children.

A charging document filed with the county court system described the teen-ager as suffering "bruises, welts, knots, cuts and blisters to head, neck, torso, arms and legs" consistent with the story the boy told deputies Tuesday night, Walsh said.

When deputies arrested the Massenbergs, they found the teen's brother, 11, in woods behind the home, cowering in a fetal position with cuts and bruises on his body. An investigation into possible abuse of the brother, who was being treated last night at Harford Memorial Hospital, and their sister, 9, is under way, Walsh said.

Walsh said the 14-year-old stumbled into the Southern Precinct about 11: 30 p.m. Tuesday, with a handcuff dangling from his leg, and "asking for help."

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