Parents accused of locking son in bedroom due in court

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GASTON COUNTY, N.C. - A 14-year-old boy is in DSS custody after Gastonia police said his parents locked him in his bedroom for days without food and water.

Police said Johnny Dickson and Joy Skipper forced their teenage son to go to the bathroom in a bucket.

Police arrested the couple on Saturday and charged them both with felony child abuse.

Gastonia police said a tip led them to the house on Mountainview Street.

Police said Dickson and Skipper locked the boy in his bedroom for days. The windows were boarded up and he was forced to go to the bathroom in a bucket, according to arrest warrants.

DSS investigators and Gastonia police detectives are investigating how often and how long the teen was locked in the bedroom.

Police said more charges could be coming.

"You never know what people are capable of doing. You never know," said Anthony Moore, who lives two doors down.

Arrest warrants also said the teen did not have access to any food or water.

When officers found him on Friday, he was suffering from "dehydration" and "a lack of proper nutrition."

Neighbors said they've often seen the boy walking around the neighborhood, and they never thought anything was wrong.

"He was always a real mannered kid, saying, 'Hey, how you doing today?' Always smiling. Never did have no physical bruises that I could see," said David Green.

Police said the teenager is suffering from a "serious mental injury" as a result of the abuse.

Neighbors told Eyewitness News they don't believe they could have done anything to better protect the teenager.

"How would I look out? [The abuse] is not going on outside, it's going on inside," said Moore. "Don't nobody know about it."

Johnny Dickson hung up the phone when Eyewitness News called him Sunday evening.

Both Dickson and Skipper will be in court Monday afternoon.