BUFORD, Ga. (WXIA) – Authorities say a former Georgia Tech football player and his wife locked their son up in a room for more than one year.
Police have charged 33-year-old Recardo Wimbush and 37-year-old Therian Wimbush with cruelty to children in the first degree and false imprisonment after discovering that the couple's 13-year-old son, the oldest of ten children, had been imprisoned in their home on Pierce Way in Buford.
According to the Gwinnett County Police Department, the Division of Family and Children Services received an anonymous tip about the boy on June 15.
On June 16, case workers found the boy confined to a small room that was locked from the outside. Inside the room was a box spring and mattress and a large plastic jar, which was apparently used a toilet.
The boy appeared to be in good health, authorities said. The parents said that he'd been locked up for disciplinary reasons.
A subsequent criminal investigation found that the boy had been confined to the room for most of the last two years. The lock had been added in Jan. 2013. The boy had no access to books, toys, entertainment devices or to his nine siblings. He was fed at normal times and from time to time was let out of the room to use the bathroom, police said. He did not attend school outside the home, or go anywhere else.
Former Georgia Tech football player and his wife admit they locked up their 13-year-old son in a basement room for nearly two years, while their nine other children were treated normally.
The boy's nine siblings were not confined and appeared to be in good health. There were said to be no signs of malnourishment or physical abuse to any of the 10 children.
DFCS required the locked to be removed from the door and allowed the children to remain in the custody of their parents at that time. However, a judge placed the children in DFCS care after a deprivation hearing on June 19. At that point, police began a criminal investigation.
The Gwinnett County Police Department conducted a search of the house on June 18 and found that the victim's room had been largely unchanged since the DFCS visit. Two of the walls in his room were concrete, two were sheet rock, and the floor was hardwood. The room was said to be clean and in good repair. There was no light bulb in the room's light fixture and the room was said to be dark. The room's sole window was painted white, which let in a small amount of daylight, police said.
Police expect Recardo and Therian Wimbush to surrender on Friday.
According to the criminal arrest warrant, "Therian and Recardo justified [the boy's] treatment in Juvenile Court by saying [he] molested three of the younger siblings. [The boy] stated that he was locked in the bedroom located in the basement for taking the family DVD player and lying about it."
Police also said the parents complained the boy had tried repeatedly to run away from home.
The investigation is ongoing.
Recardo Wimbush played football at Georgia Tech from 1999 to 2002 and was an all ACC performer. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent in 2003, and played in the pre-season, but was released before playing in any regular season games.
The parents had previously been arrested in 2005 on simple battery charges, according to Gwinnett County Detention Center records.