CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A mother and father are facing charges after investigators received an anonymous tip that six children inside their home were chained to beds and locked inside their rooms.
According to a search warrant released Tuesday, social workers and officers responded to a home along the 4900-block of Statesville Road in Charlotte last Monday.
From the outside, the home looks to be in disrepair. The yard is littered with beer cans and trash. A broken chain hangs from a tree in the front yard, which faces Statesville Road.
When they were inside the home, investigators found a bunk bed in the hallway with "two metal linked chains on each end of the bed with small master locks attached to them," the warrant states.
A police report issued in the case lists four victims, not the initial report of six, as a 10-year-old girl, and three boys, age 8, 6 and 4. One of the children has autism, according to police.
Lt. Tom Barry with the Special Victims Division at CMPD says an anonymous tip led to the investigation. "The one positive we can take away is that the phone that came in anonymously, worked," he said.
Barry also described how the children are receiving services they need to recover through help with DSS and Pat's Place, a child advocacy center in Charlotte.
The warrant says the children were interviewed individually by the social worker while an officer stood with the other children, who were playing on their mother's phone.
Police arrested the mother, Melissa Gonzalez-Guzman, and father, Felipe Gonzalez-Guzman on a total of 60 charges relating to abuse.
The children were taking photos and making videos on the phone, the warrant said. One of the children went to the officer "wanting to show the pictures and video they took."
While the child was scrolling through the photos, the officer reportedly saw photos of four children with "linked chains around their wrist and waist," according to the warrant.
There was reportedly a photo also showing "what appeared to be an autistic 3-year-old child chained to a chair."
The officer and social worker found bruising and marks on the wrist of a 9-year-old and on the ankle of a 6-year-old "consistent with and caused by being restrained by the linked chains," according to the warrant.
According to the search warrant, police seized metal linked chains from the bathroom cabinet, a bedroom closet, the bunk bed in the hallway and a tree branch outside.
The parents were both taken to police headquarters where they were interviewed by detectives. Both were charged with 15 counts of false imprisonment and 15 counts of child abuse with serious physical injury.
Lt. Barry emphasized how important it is to speak up about suspected child abuse and report it to authorities. He said there are resources and agencies that can help struggling parents succeed, like Pat's Place.
Detectives are asking anyone with additional information concerning this case or the suspect to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600. To learn more about the Crime Stoppers mobile app, please visit http://charlottecrimestoppers.com/.