Fort Wayne, IN (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - A Fort Wayne couple charged with physical and emotional abuse of four young children made their first appearance in court Tuesday morning and pleaded not guilty in the case.
22-year-old Antonio Henderson was charged with 8-felonies, including neglect and battery.
The children's mother, 27-year-old Breezy Parker, is also facing felony charges of neglect.
Henderson is accused of hitting the children and choking them while their mother was working.
Court papers show Parker knew about the abuse but continued to let her boyfriend stay in their home.
A mother and her boyfriend are charged in a horrific case of child abuse and neglect.
According to court documents, 22-year-old Antonio Henderson of Fort Wayne repeatedly abused his girlfriend's four children, including choking them until they passed out during a ritual the kids called "night, night."
The boys are eight, five, and four-years-old. A one-year-old little girl was also the subject of the alleged abuse.
In October 2011, police say the children's aunt called to alert them that she believed Henderson was abusing the four children. When police arrived to investigate, court documents say the children were living in a home with no heat and no hot water on Schele Avenue.
Henderson allegedly told police the gas had been shut off more at least six months.
Police say there were obvious bruises and scratches on the children, and the four-year-old had two black eyes.
The children's mother, 27-year-old Breezy Parker, told police she worked 70 to 80 hours a week, and Henderson always watched the children.
The five-year-old allegedly told police that Henderson made him and his brothers give their sister a "blanket party." The kids' aunt told police Henderson was in the Army Reserves. A "blanket party" is a military form of punishment where someone is covered with a blanket while others hit him or her.
The five-year-old also told police Henderson threatened to put the kids in a six-foot Boa Constrictor's cage if they misbehaved. He also told police Henderson choked his sister, swung her around by her feet, and threw her on the couch.
According to court documents, Henderson told police he disciplined the children by making them stand along the wall in the basement and hold a basketball in front of them for ten minutes.
Parker allegedly told police she had just noticed the bruises and asked Henderson to leave, but then allowed him to stay once he told her that he had no place else to go. She also reportedly acknowledged that her eight-year-old son had previously told her about the abuse.
The eight-year-old boy told workers with the Department of Child Services that Henderson hit all of the kids and would punch the four-year-old in the head with his fists. He also told DCS workers that Henderson would whip them, put their heads under water, and zip them up in an Army duffel bag.
A doctor's examination uncovered a skull fracture on the one-year-old along with numerous cuts, bruises, scratches, and scrapes covering her body.
The four-year-old had a hemorrhage in his left eye and numerous injuries to his head and body. The five-year-old had numerous scars, bruises, cuts, and scratches as well.
Henderson is charged with four counts of battery and four counts of neglect of a dependent. Parker is also charged with four counts of neglect of a dependent.
The kids are in emergency foster care. Henderson and Parker are expected to appear in court Tuesday.
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