PEOSTA, Iowa (KCRG-TV9 and AP) - The parents of a 13-year-old and the boy's uncle have been accused of having the repeat runaway wear a chain belt attached to a weight.
Court records say Cynthia Kobusch and her husband, Michael Kobusch, and her brother, Jeffrey Merfeld, have been charged with child endangerment. They live in Peosta. The records don't list attorneys who could comment for them.
The records say the boy was known for running away. He told investigators his parents were out of town when Merfeld padlocked a chain around the boy's waist and attached a weight. The two were at the uncle's repair shop off of Highway 20 when "Merfeld made him strip down naked and placed a log chain around his waist and secured it with a key style padlock." Merfeld allegedly forced the boy to work around the machine shop wearing only a chain and towel around his waist.
The boy ran away again in December. When investigators found the boy in January, he showed them healing blood blisters from the chain.
The court documents also cite two witnesses who back up the boy's claims. A neighbor with the last name Hermsen said he saw the victim walking around with a four foot black chain with weights on the end.
The boy also says his parents left the chain on for two days after they returned.
The document says Cynthia Kobusch told an investigator she'd asked Merfeld to fashion a way to attach a GPS unit to her son.
TV9 spoke with some neighbors but none would go on camera. One neighbor that lives next to the uncle says he's surprised it happened and hadn't seen anything suspicious.