A woman received 28 years in prison for nearly starving her stepson to death and locking him in a crawl space, according to reports.
Tammi Bleimeyer was found guilty of injury to a child – serious bodily injury, said the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in Texas. Bradley Bleimeyer, the child’s father pleaded guilty two years ago of the same charge and received 15 years in prison, officials said.
The child, 5, weighed 29 pounds when he was rescued. It’s well below the normal weight of a 5-year-old.
The boy also wore a diaper “was often given only a slice of bread to eat and that was snatched away from him if he took too long to eat it,” prosecutors told ABC News (which posted graphic photos of the boy).
The level of malnourishment was akin to that of “a Holocaust survivor,” Assistant District Attorney Stephen Driver said. “He was nearly starved to death,” he said, reported the Houston Chronicle.
The child, who was not named, had to sleep in an unfinished crawl space beneath the stairs. They called it the “Harry Potter Room,” but there were exposed wires and nails, officials said.
The boy’s older brother tipped officials in 2014 about the abuse. The brother, 16, told Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office deputies that the boy was being abused at their house in the 21500 block of Castlemont.
Deputies performed a welfare check and discovered the small room with a mattress.
Bleimeyer fled with the child when deputies went into the home. The stepmother and the boy were located and rescued when deputies tracked her to a motel.
Officials said the boy showed signs of abuse as well as malnourishment. Doctors said that he could have died if he wasn’t treated, the paper reported.
The boy is now 9 years old and is being cared for by his biological mother.
“There are a few things that will stick with you through your career in law enforcement; this is one of them,” Constable Mark Herman said.
Tammi Bleimeyer’s attorney, Matt Horak, told ABC: “We respect the decision of the jury in this trial.”
Horak added, “By all accounts from the witnesses … Tami was the victim of prolonged and brutal physical and emotional domestic violence.”
“I wish that fact would have weighed in more with the jury’s punishment verdict,” Horak said.
The boy’s brother, Cody Frank, 21, said the boy’s father, Bradley Bleimeyer, was physically abusive. He said he sometimes heard the sounds of a Taser.
“It’s no mystery why we are all here,” Frank said of Bleimeyer, Click2Houston reported. “You made a big mistake and ultimately have to face the consequences. I’m up here asking the rhetorical question of, ‘How could you put your children through all of that?’” Frank said.
“I love you and I’ll never forget all the good things that happened,” stated Dylan, one of Tammi Bleimeyer’s children. “I hope that you take care of yourself and fix whatever led you to this point.”
A sister, Allison Frank, described Tammi as “manipulating” and “often playing the victim,” the report said.