Mother, Stepfather Held in Torture of Teen Over Missing Drug Money
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Laine Sumner missed a lot of school. For three days last month, his mother said the 15-year-old boy had the flu. When school officials kept calling, his stepfather finally said he had run away.
But the teen-ager had not run away. Instead, authorities contend, the boy was being tortured by his mother, stepfather and others in an effort to recover $32,000 in drug money they thought he stole.
Last week, the boy escaped from his brother-in-law’s house in Oklahoma City and told police he was shocked with an electrical device, burned with an iron, and doused with bleach among other things during an eight-week ordeal.
Authorities said the boy, who is now in the custody of the state Department of Human Services, had two black eyes, burn marks and other wounds on his body consistent with torture.
``I have never heard of an incident like this where anyone short of maybe a prisoner of war has gone through what this kid apparently has gone through over about a two-month period,″ District Attorney Tim Kuykendall said Monday.
The prosecutor said that when he first read the statement Sumner gave to authorities, ``I thought he had to have been making it up.″ But a search of his stepfather’s home turned up many of the alleged torture devices, he said.
Authorities say the torture was in retribution for stealing drug money kept in a safe in his parents’ bedroom, but there was no indication that the boy actually took the money. ``The victim is insistent he knows nothing about the money,″ Kuykendall said.
Ten people have been arrested since the boy escaped, including Sumner’s stepfather, Eddie McCombs, mother, Jamie Wilson, and brother-in-law, Gary Gammel. All three were charged with solicitation for murder, kidnapping for the purpose of extortion, maiming, child abuse and drug violations.
The solicitation for murder charge stems from alleged discussions, particularly by McCombs and Gammel, about doing ``anything possible″ to find the money, even killing the boy, Kuykendall said.
The other seven people were charged with such things as kidnapping for the purpose of extortion, child abuse, failure to report child abuse, conspiracy to traffic methamphetamine and other drug violations. Two of them, Herbert DeShazer and John Taylor, were also charged with solicitation for murder.
Gammel’s wife, Bambi, the teen-ager’s sister, faces charges of child abuse even though the boy told police she gave him her car and some money and told him to flee.
Bail ranged from $25,000 to $50,000 on each count. Ms. Wilson and Gammel were being held on $300,000 bail and McCombs on $275,000.
The boy told police his parents chained him inside a well house on their Newcastle property on Sept. 18 and kept him there for five days. The torture continued through Nov. 14, when he fled, police said.
Sumner told police he had seen his mother and stepfather use methamphetamine and marijuana in the home, that they ``always had drugs on hand″ and that Gammel ``dealt in large quantities of methamphetamine.″
Joe Cox, principal of Newcastle High School, said Sumner, a sophomore, frequently missed school and had been absent since Oct. 9, when school officials called his home to find out what was wrong.
For three days, he said, Ms. Wilson said he had the flu. On Oct. 12, when Sumner was still absent, McCombs said, ``He ran away and we can’t find him,″ Cox said.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Sumner was absent from school during the entire eight weeks he was allegedly tortured. The principal said school records don’t show him being steadily absent during September.
However, his frequent absences were not looked upon as unusual at the high school in Newcastle, a little town about 15 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.
``When a kid’s out ... in high school especially, I’ve got ’em that’ll quit and you never hear from them again,″ Cox said.
Cox said Ms. Wilson at times seemed sincerely concerned about her son’s schoolwork. But usually, he said, ``you call out there and they act like it’s none of your business.″
Cox said Sumner is a ``normal, everyday kid″ who occasionally got into trouble for back talking. That resulted in trips to the principal’s office.
``I always enjoyed talking to him,″ Cox said, adding that there was never any indication of trouble. ``I think he’d have told me if there was, but maybe not.″