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Police Say Former Football Star, Wife Kept 13-Year-Old Son Locked in Basement

Recardo Wimbush, who played at Georgia Tech, and his wife Therian will be charged with first-degree child cruelty.

WSB-TV screenshot
WSB-TV screenshot

A former Georgia Tech football player and his wife are facing child cruelty charges after Gwinnett Police say they confined their 13-year-old son to a small basement room for most of the past two years.

Gwinnett Police Cpl. Jake Smith said Recardo Wimbush, 33, and Therian Wimbush, 37, have been charged with first-degree cruelty to children and false imprisonment. They are expected to turn themselves into police on Friday, June 27, police said.

They are accused of keeping the teen — one of the couple’s 10 children — in a small locked room at their Buford, Ga., residence with just a mattress and box springs, and a plastic bucket apparently used as a toilet. There were no signs of abuse or malnutrition, police said, but the boy had not seen his siblings in months, WSB reported. The TV station reported the room was the size of an office cubicle.

The parents said they were disciplining the boy.

“The victim had been confined to the room for most of the past two years and a lock had been added to the victim’s room in January 2013,” Smith said on what the investigation revealed. “The victim had no access to books, toys, entertainment devices, or his siblings.  He was provided with food at normal meal times and was occasionally let out to use the bathroom.  He did not attend school or any other activities during this time.”

The boy and his siblings are in state custody.

According to police, the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) investigated the Wimbush home at 1924 Pierce Way in Buford on June 16 following an anonymous complaint on June 15.

Case workers found the boy in the room that was locked from the outside.

“The victim appeared to be in generally good health,” Smith said. “The parents stated the victim was confined for disciplinary reasons. The victim’s nine other siblings were not confined and also appeared to be in generally good health. There were no signs of malnourishment or physical abuse to the victim or his siblings.”

The children were left in the parents’ custody, and case workers required the lock be removed. But a judge ordered the children to DFCS custody at a June 19 deprivation hearing.

Police followed with another search of the home the same day, the news release stated. Police found the room virtually unchanged from the way it had been on June 16.

Smith said the room had a hardwood floor, only a fitted sheet on the mattress and no bulb in the light fixture. The window was painted white, allowing some light into the room during the day.

Recardo Wimbush was a four-year starter at linebacker for Georgia Tech from 1999-2002, according the school’s athletics department website. Wimbush was on the Atlanta Falcons training camp roster at one point.

The investigation continues.

Check back for updates

Philip Beck June 27, 2014 at 09:54 AM
Were the other children in collusion?
Elizabeth Elizabeth June 27, 2014 at 05:11 PM
Other children can not collude with abuse because of the imbalance of power that exists between adults and children, especially when children are afraid and trying to survive. Many child victims minimize or deny abuse. The article states that, there were no obvious signs of abuse or malnutrition" according to the police - if imprisonment and deprivation as though this CHILD were a prisoner of war is not abuse, then what is? He was isolated, left to go crazy alone, dehumanized with no toilet even.....this is sick and these people better go to jail!!!!!
Mary Brown June 27, 2014 at 08:10 PM
Excellent comment, Elizabeth, Elizabeth (6/27/14 @ 5:11pm)! Many people have no clue of the denial, fear, manipulation, mixed signals and parental devotion tied into situations such as this. A dependent child (doesn't even matter that they're in their early teens and sometimes, older) brought up in an environment that is relatively "normal," are hard pressed to go to authorities or authority figures, when something "bad" happens at home; especially if they've been convinced that a sibling or other individual in the home, has somehow hurt, shamed or violated the home and/or parents in some way! Culture can also come into play in situations like this. To all who are looking for someone to "blame," please read "A Child Called It" by Dave Peltzer. It provides a chilling look into the mindset, sickness and aftermath of homes like that of the Wimbush family, and the many people (child welfare departments, churches, family members, school systems and others), who knowing and unknowingly collude to enable these situations to descend into such a demoralizing and unfathomable, abyss.
Maria Houser Conzemius July 10, 2014 at 09:24 AM
This is psychopathic behavior. None of their children is safe.

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