ST. PETER, Minn. - A North Mankato couple is facing charges of neglect and malicious punishment after doctors discovered their 8-year-old son weighed just under 35 pounds.
Prosecutors filed a complaint Monday charging Russell and Mona Hauer with six felony counts.
"I've been doing this 20 years and it's quite disturbing," said lead investigator Marc Chadderdon with the Nicollet County Sheriff's Office.
The criminal complaint alleges the couple kept food from their son by putting an alarm on his door so they would know if he got up at night to get food. That's because they claim he had issues with food.
"Concerning, concerning that at no point that this kid is 34 pounds, and no one thought he needs to go into the hospital," said Chadderdon.
The complaint alleges the parents put their son on a "liquid diet," advice they say they got from their chiropractor to help the boy from throwing up his food. That chiropractor apparently claims the couple took his advice to extremes.
"And she indicated that he wouldn't come to the table and that was his choice, saying he didn't want to eat. Well, I don't think I would want to either, if I get a glass with juice and powder in it," said Chadderdon.
He says authorities found out about what was happening when the mother took the boy to the doctor after she thought he was throwing up blood. Turns out, the stain on his shirt was not blood but rather from popsicles that he snuck to eat, said Chadderon.
The complaint alleges the child tried to sneak food by eating nuts from the bird feeder and food from the compost even though the boy knew it might be dirty.
"At first seeing him, he's quite small. Appears to be a 3 or 4 years old," he said.
The couple has three other children ranging from 5 to 9 years old. All the children are home schooled. The oldest is the couple's biological child, the rest are adopted.
Investigators say none of those children were malnourished, which is why according to court documents, a judge allowed those children to go back home Thursday, despite prosecutors' objections.
Hauers are licensed foster parents, as well. It was unclear how many children they care for over the years.
KARE 11 tried to get an explanation about the condition of couple's 8-year-old son Monday night both at their house and by phone, but no one answered either.
Chadderdon wonders if any explanation is good enough.
"(It's) very disturbing," he said.
The boy remains hospitalized.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)