HINTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Three Summers County individuals facing multiple charges in relation to the abuse of a juvenile by a parent or guardian turned themselves in to authorities on Thursday.
According to reports from Sergeant T.J. Cochran of the Summers County Sheriff’s Department, on February 3, 2023, Sgt. Cochran was contacted by Summers County Sheriff Justin Faris regarding an 11-year-old juvenile male who had gone missing from 346 Clementine Farm Lane in the Jumping Branch area of Summers County.
According to Sheriff Faris, the juvenile had been missing all night in 20 degree weather. Deputies staged at Bluestone Baptist Church in the search effort.
Meeting with Sheriff Faris upon arrival, Sgt. Cochran, along with Special Agent Baushke, would make contact with Elizabeth Reese, the mother of the missing juvenile who stated he had gone missing while she was purportedly shopping in the Beckley area.
It was around this time that the search party located the missing juvenile, at which point Sgt. Cochran and Sheriff Faris responded to the residence of the victim where he had been found hiding under a building.
Upon arrival at the residence, officers observed the juvenile victim sitting on a sofa with a first responder taking his vitals and conducting an examination. Both officers reported having observed bruising on the face of the victim, as well as his arms and side. The father of the victim advised that the victim had been in a vehicle accident earlier in the month.
The victim was then transported to Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital where he provided statements citing abuse by members of the family including his mother Elizabeth Reese, his father Tony Reese, and his brother Richard Reese. The victim was then placed in protective custody and was removed from the home of the family pending investigation.
A subsequent interview with the victim was conducted on February 23, 2023 at 11:45am by Sgt. Cochran and Sheriff Faris. During the interview, the victim provided multiple accounts of abuse at the hands of family members in the home, including the use of a pink stun gun “to punish him when he wouldn’t listen.”
According to official reports, the victim, “stated after they would shock him they would laugh thinking it was funny. The victim talked about how his hands wouldn’t work after being shocked. The victim stated that everyone knew about them using the shocker [stun gun] on him and didn’t do anything to stop it.”
It was also revealed by the victim during the interview that the other family members in the house “had all beaten him with a belt after accusing him of stealing a lighter,” despite the victim claiming to have had no knowledge of the lighter or its whereabouts. The victim advised this situation to be the origin of the bruising previously referenced.
On March 8, 2023, a forensic interview with child protective services was conducted with the victim wherein multiple counts of physical abuse were detailed, resulting in a search warrant being obtained on the Reese residence.
Upon execution of the search warrant, Sgt. Cochran recovered two belts matching the description provided by the victim during the interview, the first being worn by Tony Reese and the second by Richard Reese. The victim advised that all members of the household utilized belts to beat him multiple times, resulting in bruises and blood welts.
Mental abuse was described as having been endured by the victim, who advised that he was verbally degraded by members of the household and made to sleep on a blanket on the floor at the bottom of the bed. The victim also revealed having been forced to stand in a corner for hours if he got up from the floor, depriving the victim of sleep.
The victim described having only been allowed a glass of water and slice of bread at meal times, while other members of the house were permitted to have regular full-course meals.
The juvenile victim also recalled having his hands beaten with belts until he was unable to bend his fingers or pick anything up at times when he tried to sneak and eat food while the other members of the household were not around.
“Essentially what this all stems from is that, back in the beginning days of February, we received a call about a runaway juvenile. The juvenile remained missing for the entirety of that night, early into the next morning and wasn’t found until the afternoon of the next day. After the search had concluded and the juvenile was found safe, an investigation was initiated into the family and into the household,” Summers County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Adkins tells LOOTPRESS.
“Throughout the course of that investigation we received a vast amount of evidence that would suggest that something was taking place in the house. As a result of that, Tony Reese, Richard Reese, and Elizabeth Reese have all been charged with four counts of gross child neglect and four counts of child abuse each – a total of eight charges per individual.”
Deputy Adkins referred to the time which had elapsed between the initial incident of the missing juvenile and the subsequent charging of the family members within the household, stating that the period was spent accruing evidence in relation to the investigation.
“Some people may ask why this investigation took so long,” he continued. “There was actually an enormous amount of evidence there that had to be reviewed and gone over to make sure that the victim received the justice that they deserved. So, that’s why it took the better part of a month and a half, almost two months, to come to a conclusion.”
Tony Reese, Richard Reese, and Elizabeth Reese were arraigned Thursday by a Summers County Magistrate and were released on a $20,000 bond each – a figure Deputy Adkins called “abysmal” in relation to the severity of the charges brought against the subjects involved.