TROY, Mo., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A 6-year-old boy was kidnapped by his family, stripped of his pants and threatened with a gun to teach him a lesson about being nice to strangers, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said Thursday.
Authorities said the boy's aunt, mother and grandmother agreed the child should be abducted by a friend to teach him a life lesson. The abduction lasted for about four hours.
"Family members told investigators their primary intent was to educate the victim and felt they did nothing wrong," investigators said in a written statement.
The boy's mother, Elizabeth Hupp, 25; his grandmother, Rose Brewer, 58; his aunt, Denise Kroutil, 38; and Nathan Wynn Firoved, 25, Kroutil's coworker, were arrested on charges that include kidnapping and neglect of a child.
The sheriff's office said Kroutil asked Firoved to scare the boy because he was "too nice" to people. Firoved lured the child into his truck as he was getting off the school bus and told the boy he would never "see his mommy again" and he would be "nailed to the wall of a shed," investigators said. When the boy started to cry, Firoved threatened him with a gun, tied him up with plastic bags and threw a jacket over his head, the sheriff's office said.
Firoved took the boy -- still blindfolded -- to the basement of his own home, investigators said. While there, Kroutil stripped off his pants and threatened he would be sold into sex slavery. Investigators said he did not recognize her voice.
"Kroutil was also upset the boy did not try to resist her," investigators said. "During the entire event, family members and Firoved remained in contact via the cellular phone as they terrorized the victim."
After the restraints were removed, the child was told to go upstairs, where his family lectured him about stranger danger, investigators said.
The sheriff's office was later alerted to the incident by school officials, and he was taken into protective custody. Investigators later found two handguns in Firoved's truck.
The boy said he did not remember what day the incident took place.
A neighbor who lives across the street told the St. Louis Post--Dispatch the family kept to themselves.
"I'm totally appalled by it," she said. "I can't believe that's what they would do to teach him about strangers. I feel really bad for the boy."