Crime & Courts

Cellphone photos of chained children lead to abuse charges for Charlotte couple

Felipe Gonzalez-Guzman
Felipe Gonzalez-Guzman Mecklenburg County jail

A Charlotte couple is accused of chaining their four children to their beds and locking them in their rooms.

Police charged Felipe Gonzalez-Guzman, 48, and Melissa Gonzalez-Guzman, 30, with 15 counts each of false imprisonment and felony child abuse.

Police said they went to the home in the 4900 block of Statesville Road in north Charlotte on July 18 in reference to an anonymous call to check on the children. At the home, police met workers from the Department of Social Services and later executed a warrant to search the home.

According to the search warrant made public Tuesday, police found a bunk bed in the hallway with “two metal linked chains on each end of the bed with small master locks attached to them,” WBTV, the Observer’s news partner, reported.

Lt. Tom Berry said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon that the children are an 11-year-old girl and boys ages 9, 6 and 3, who he believes are all siblings. The children are staying with their extended family, Berry said. He said they were not hospitalized for any injuries, but are receiving psychological services from Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center.

Police encourage anyone with information about the case or the parents to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

The warrant says the children were interviewed individually by a social worker while an officer stood with the other children, who were playing with their mother’s phone. The children were taking photos and making videos on the phone, when one of the children went to the officer “wanting to show the pictures and video they took.”

The officer saw photos on the phone of four children with “linked chains around their wrist and waist,” according to the warrant. WBTV reported.

One photo also showed “what appeared to be an autistic 3-year-old child chained to a chair,” the warrant says.

The officer and social worker found bruising and marks on the wrist of a 9-year-old and on the ankle of a 6-year-old “consistent with and caused by being restrained by the linked chains,” according to the warrant.

Police seized metal linked chains from the bathroom cabinet, a bedroom closet, the bunk bed in the hallway and a tree branch outside, the warrant says.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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