ELKINS, W.Va. — Three Elkins residents are facing child abuse charges after police alleged that the trio locked a 9-year-old boy in a cold room for days after shocking him with a stun gun and beating him with a belt.
On Jan. 11, officers with the Elkins Police Department received a walk-in complaint from an individual who stated that “a little boy came to his window on the roof and asked for a phone” at his residence in Elkins, according to a criminal complaint.
The complainant stated that the boy told him “he was locked in his room and had to use the bathroom in a jug,” after that, the complainant told the boy to return to his room and then reported the information to Elkins police, officers said.
After that, officers responded to a residence on 4th Street in Elkins and made contact with Robert Shaw, 34, of Elkins, and asked if there were any children in the residence, according to the complaint.
Shaw told officers that “there was a boy upstairs,” and when officers asked if they could enter the residence to check on the child, Shaw said they could; when officers were led to the child’s room, and when Shaw opened the door, which was “shut and locked,” a 9-year-old male inside the room “backed up to the corner quietly,” officers said.
Officers noted that “the room was frigidly cold” and that they “could see their breath”; when officers felt the boy’s hands, they “were like ice,” according to the complaint.
When officers asked the boy if he was okay, “he began to cry and said, ‘no’,” and then showed officers “bruising on his left leg, lower back and buttocks,” before telling officers “he was locked in the room with only a blanket, the container on the ground and a roll of toilet paper,” officers said.
The boy told officers that, the night before, Shaw and Michelle Pelfrey, 34, of Elkins, “beat him with a belt” and that he “had been locked in his room for around a week and was only fed once a day with a meal of white rice,” according to the complaint.
The juvenile then stated that if he wanted a drink, he had to knock on the door and ask if he could, and he was then only given water,” and that he had not been let out of his room “since the night before” by Shaw and Michael Pelfrey, 58, of Elkins, according to the complaint.
During their conversation, the boy told officers that Shaw and Michelle “would also pick on him and chase him with a ‘kid taser’,” which Shaw had a black one and Michelle owned a purple one, and that Shaw “had shocked him in the back,” officers said.
Officers observed “obvious injuries consistent with the prongs of a small self-defense stun gun” on the boy’s back, according to the complaint.
After detaining Michael and Shaw, officers asked if the boy wanted something to eat, at which point the child “went straight to the refrigerator and retrieved a container of white rice,” and when officers asked if the child would rather have pizza, he said that “he wasn’t allowed to,” officers said.
The boy was taken to Davis Medical Center for a check up and treatment, after which Michelle arrived at the residence while a search warrant was being executed, and when Michelle came onto the scene, she “immediately stated ‘You guys are here because things got out of hand, right?'” according to the complaint.
After being read their Miranda rights, Michelle, Michael and Shaw all stated “that they were aware of the punishments that were happening,” such as locking the boy “in the room, feeding him sparingly, making him use the bathroom in a small plastic container and the ‘beating’ that took place on Jan. 10,” and that “they were aware of the incidents with the stun gun,” officers said.
The three stated that “sometimes things get out of hand,” and Michael told officers that “he had not struck [the boy] in approximately 2-3 years,” but the last time he did, it “was with a 2×4 and left bruises on him,” according to the complaint.
Shaw, Michael and Michelle have been charged with child abuse. All three are being held in Tygart Valley Regional Jail on a $150,000 cash-only bond, each.