MACCLESFIELD, N.C. – For disobeying his parents, a 13-year-old North Carolina boy was tied to a tree overnight two times this week.
On Thursday afternoon, he was found there unresponsive, his wrists bruised from the plastic ties that bound him. The boy was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was declared dead.
Now, his father and stepmother are charged with his murder.
The boy’s father, Brice Brian McMillan, 41, and stepmother, Sandra Elizabeth McMillan, 36, were charged with first-degree murder and felony child abuse. They were being held without bail Friday in the Edgecombe County, N.C., jail.
Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight said Friday that Brice McMillan told deputies that the boy had been disobedient on Tuesday. McMillan said he tried to discipline his son, who still wouldn’t listen, so the child was tied to a tree in the family’s yard overnight.
Knight said the boy was tied with plastic ties akin to handcuffs. “There were other things on the body that led us to believe they used something different” in addition to the plastic ties, he said.
On Wednesday morning, the ties were cut and the boy was allowed back in the house, Knight said.
On Wednesday night, the boy continued to misbehave and was again tied to the tree, where he remained until Sandra McMillan found him unresponsive about 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Knight said.
The boy had languished outdoors while the area was blanketed in dense, acrid smoke from the Pocosin Lakes wildfire to the east. State officials had warned the public to stay indoors because of the smoke’s health threat.
After authorities arrived, the child was taken to Heritage Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Knight said he had some idea of what the child was being disciplined for, but he said he could not share that information and that he did not know which parent initiated the discipline.
Two other children, ages 7 and 9, were placed in the custody of the Edgecombe Department of Social Services, the sheriff said.