Alleged abuse discovered after student told school official he didn’t want to leave and be handcuffed again

Mount Oliver, Pennsylvania: White Oak Police Officers responded to a call at Francis McClure Elementary School on Wednesday, May 5, after an 11-year-old John Doe refused to enter his father's vehicle after he had been dismissed from school for the day. He is said to have clung to a school employee saying that he did not wish to be handcuffed again.


When officers arrived on scene, they found 37-year-old Richard Hayes and his girlfriend, 26-year-old Natosha Bell in the van, along with two other children, ages 10 and 7 in the backseat. Officers observed that the two children were handcuffed.


Officers detained Bell and Hayes. While searching Hayes they found him to be in possession of a loaded handgun.


The three children have been placed into the care of the Allegheny County Children, Youth, and Family who transported them to the hospital for treatment. It was there that the children are said to have told of abuse.


The children told of two rooms in the basement, one "the cell" and the other, "the hole" in which they would be held, sometimes for days at a time.


When searching the home, officers located an empty coal cellar which had no water or lights, and a concrete floor.


The cell was another room in the basement, identified by the deadbolt on the exterior and laminate flooring that the children had described. Police noted that the room had no running water, mattress or pillows, and only a bucket to serve as a toilet.


The 7-year-old told investigators that he had been locked inside for taking food when he was hungry. Additionally, he told of a time when his mother held his legs, and his father submerged his head underwater in the tub.


Hayes is the father of all three children, but Bell is the mother to the two younger ones.


At this time, Hayes and Bell face a total of 14 charges including aggravated assault, unlawful restraint of a minor, false imprisonment of a minor, child endangerment and simple assault. Hayes has additionally been charged with possession of a weapon on school property.


Hayes is scheduled to appear before District Judge Richard G. King on May 19 for a preliminary hearing, but Bell is not scheduled to appear until June 30 at 1:00 pm.


According to court documents seen by KMOV4, Hayes has admitted to handcuffing the children, locking them in the basement, and submerging the youngest in water.