A Lancaster County woman has been arrested and charged with forcing her boyfriend's 4-year-old son to eat laxatives and hot sauce, tying up his legs, locking him in a closet and verbally abusing him, authorities said.
Danielle Miller, 31, is charged with eight felonies — five counts of aggravated assault and one count each of endangering a child, false imprisonment and unlawful restraint — for allegedly abusing the boy over a four-month period, the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office said.
Her boyfriend, Nathan Duke, 30, the boy's father, was charged with two felonies — endangerment and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault — for allegedly concealing the abuse and not reporting it to authorities.
Miller, Duke and four children, including the victim, lived together in a house in Quarryville.
Authorities contend that Miller bound the boy at his legs during what she called "playing mermaid," fed him a laxative concoction she called "poop beans," forced him to eat hot sauce without letting him drink water for long periods of time, kept him barricaded in a closet while terrorizing him, and forced him to stay on a toilet for hours until he defecated.
She also allegedly called him "[expletive] pig" and told him he has a "stupid, ugly face," authorities said.
The reason behind the abuse? Police believe Miller resented the boy because he is Duke's child with another woman.
The Pennsylvania State Police began investigating the couple when an acquaintance reported suspected abuse. Multiple acquaintances of the family then provided police with information on specific incidents of abuse, the DA's Office said.
The boy was removed from the home in July. Medical examinations revealed he had cuts, bruises and burns caused by abuse. The boy is now living with relatives, the DA's Office said.
After an investigation, State Police on Monday filed charges against the couple, who were arrested and arraigned that morning. Miller's bail was set at $300,000; Duke's at $100,000. Neither has posted bail.