KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Oct. 17 (UPI) -- A Tennessee woman has been charged with punishing her two teenage stepsons by beating, starving and handcuffing them, officials say.
A Knoxville judge ordered Jessica Cox bound over to a grand jury after her 14-year-old stepson testified at a hearing, WBIR-TV in Knoxville reported Wednesday.
The teenager said Cox had abused both him and his 16-year-old brother, but that the older sibling had been harmed the most.
He said the 16-year-old had been forced to sit long hours handcuffed to a kitchen cabinet and been deprived of food for days. Cox had beaten the older child with rolling pins and mallets and burned him with a cigarette, he said.
The younger boy said they managed to escape the house in late May after they had been handcuffed to a kitchen cabinet. They ran to a nearby high school where a janitor called the police.
The woman's husband, Mike McIntosh, the teens' biological father, has not been implicated in the alleged abuse.
McIntosh told the court the boys had behavioral issues and that his younger son often lied to cover up for the older son. He charged the older son sexually abused the younger boy.
He said his wife suffered from multiple sclerosis.