Police: Child was beaten, starved


Christopher Crets and Nicole Crets
By: 
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

A couple from rural Warren County were arrested over the weekend after police officers found a young boy, bruised and beaten, wandering alone down a state highway.

Christopher G. Crets, 40, and Nicole L. Crets, 33, were charged with felony child abuse May 3. Christopher Crets is additionally charged with kidnapping and four counts of unlawful possession of a firearm.

According to an arrest report from the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, officers across the St. Charles County line found a 12-year-old boy walking alone west of Highway T on May 2. The child reportedly had severe bruising on his face, torso, legs and arms. He told officers he had escaped from a home on Highway OO in Warren County.

The sheriff’s department said the boy was taken for a hospital evaluation and was diagnosed with refeeding syndrome — the result of reintroducing food after malnourishment or starvation.

When asked, the boy said he used to weigh 115-120 pounds four months ago. He weighed in at the hospital at 74 pounds.

The boy told investigators that Nicole and Christopher Crets had been beating him with a belt and their bare hands. The child alleged that the Crets hit him when they believed he had been sneaking food or candy.

He also alleged that Christopher Crets handcuffed him to his bed every night for the past two months to keep him from eating food, and had also handcuffed him on occasions when the Crets left him home alone.

Sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at the Crets’ home on Highway OO, and allegedly found handcuffs attached to the bed where the boy sleeps.

Sheriff Kevin Harrison said the Crets claimed the child had health issues related to his eating habits, and that he was being kept restrained for his own good.

“It just put a knot in my stomach,” Harrison commented. “For a parent to handcuff their child to a bed and regularly beat them ... it’s not just child abuse. It’s torture.”

The search of the Crets’ home revealed multiple rifles and a semiautomatic pistol. The sheriff’s department said Christopher Crets has previous felony convictions for statutory rape and drug trafficking, and is therefore barred from possessing firearms.

Christopher and Nicole Crets are being held in custody at the Warren County Jail. Associate Circuit Judge Richard Scheibe ordered this week that they be held without bond. Their next court hearing is May 13 in Warren County Circuit Court.

Sheriff Harrison said the child victim is being cared for in protected custody.

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