Back in the old days, if you wanted to teach a kid a lesson, you'd send him to his room. A Missouri family, though, apparently didn't think that was good enough.
In order to teach a 6-year-old boy not to talk to strangers (because he was "too nice"), his mother, grandmother, aunt, and a co-worker of the aunt pretended to kidnap the boy and held him in a basement, police say.
All four adults are now facing felony charges for their tough-love stunt. Is it really illegal to kidnap your own child?
Scaring the Kid Straight
The fake abduction plot must have been alarmingly real to the child, who was picked up by the aunt's co-worker after getting off the bus, tied up, blindfolded in a basement, threatened with a gun, and told he would be "nailed to the wall of a shed," CNN reported. The boy's aunt also allegedly removed the boy's pants and told him he would be sold into sex slavery.
After being held in the basement for an unreported amount of time, he was let go; his family members were waiting upstairs to lecture him about not talking to strangers.
The next day at school, the boy told teachers what happened. He was placed in protective custody while police arrested the boy's mother for felony kidnapping and felony child abuse and neglect. The grandmother, aunt, and co-worker were charged with felonious restraint.
Don't Kidnap Your Child
In case you're wondering: Yes, it is illegal to kidnap your own child.
In Missouri, kidnapping occurs when a person "unlawfully removes another without his or her consent from the place where he or she is found or unlawfully confines another without his or her consent for a substantial period" for one of five reasons, the fifth of which -- "Inflicting physical injury on or terrorizing the victim or another" -- is most relevant here. There's no exception for children.
Kidnapping for that reason is a Class B felony, which carries a possible sentence of 5 to 15 years, including both prison and conditional release. Felonious restraint is a Class C felony with a maximum penalty of 7 years.
Missouri has even more specific statutes regarding child abduction and parental kidnapping, which prohibit taking a child for the purpose of avoiding law enforcement or removing a child from the custody of someone who also has custody. These statutes, however, would be used in custody disputes between parents or when a parent doesn't want to hand a child over to the state following a court order removing custody.
The four adults made their first court appearances Tuesday. They remain behind bars, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.