WARNING: The following story contains graphic content not suitable for all readers

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – He had not eaten for two weeks, the 7-year-old Indiana boy told investigators.

So one night, at about 2 a.m., he slipped out of the zip-ties that always bound his wrists at bedtime, snuck down to the kitchen and got some peanut butter. He didn’t want to “starve to death,” he would later say.

That’s when the woman caught him.

The boy spent the rest of the night zip-tied to his brother’s wooden crib, he told police. He spent part of the next day with his arms and legs duct-taped to a chair, a wash rag taped over his mouth so the neighbors wouldn’t hear him scream.

Later, the boy had his head slammed into a floor due to the peanut butter theft, his brothers told police.

That’s just a snippet of what three siblings had to endure in the home of 49-year-old Rita J. Dishong, who is accused in newly released Allen Superior Court documents of regularly beating two of the boys, withholding food to the point of malnourishment and burning the eldest boy’s skin with bleach.

Allen County Prosecutors on Friday formally charged Dishong with a slew of felonies ranging from domestic battery resulting in serious bodily injury to someone under 14 years of age to various counts of neglect of a dependent.

Dishong, who has yet to be booked into Allen County Jail, professed her innocence in court documents and said she never tied up or beat any of the boys – ages 5, 6 and 7.

According to court documents, she is not the boys’ mother but had care of them from late January to late April.

Abuse to the siblings came to light when when someone picked up two of the boys – the 7-year-old and his 5-year-old brother – from Dishong’s home.

The 7-year-old was so thin his ribs and shoulder blades stood out, according to court documents. He had a knot on his head, bruising on his hip, knees and back and numerous cuts and scratches to his arms, wrists and lip, a Fort Wayne Police officer wrote in court documents. Thin wispy hair covered his back.

When asked the last time he ate, the boy said in court documents he didn’t know.

During multiple interviews with forensic investigators, the boys detailed abuse while staying with Dishong.

She always used zip-ties to bind the oldest boy, they all said. Sometimes, like the night he got the peanut butter, he was able to slip out of them due to how thin he had become.

Dishong is accused of jabbing his wrists with scissors while cutting off the zip-ties, according to court documents. The boy had wounds at the wrists consistent with cuts from scissors. He also had scratches, cuts and redness at his wrists and ankles consistent with zip-ties or duct tape, according to court documents.

The boy also said he never had bowel movements, according to court documents.

The 5-year-old boy told investigators he did not feel safe at Dishong’s home because she beat him “every day,” according to court documents. He said she used a yellow backscratcher, a vacuum hose, her hands and feet to deliver the beatings and even one time threw a trash can at him.

That caused a bump on his head, he said, which detectives noted in court documents.

This boy also talked in court documents about how he and his 6-year-old brother were once “body-slammed” to the ground and that Dishong made him get a “yellow face” – which meant a cousin of the boys punched him.

At one point, according to the court documents, Dishong made the oldest boy hold hangers up to the refrigerator and she then hit him with a full jug of bleach. She is accused of spraying the boy with the bleach, burning his skin, court documents said.

She also is accused of hitting the oldest with a lamp in the eye because he was screaming, the boys told police in court documents, and punching him in the stomach so hard he threw up.

The boys told police the oldest rarely ever received any food. Dishong would feed his brothers because the 5-year-old was getting too skinny and the 6-year-old was diabetic, according to court documents.

A doctor examined the oldest boy, noting in court documents he was underweight and “visibly bony,” according to court documents. The boy was malnourished, the doctor told police, and while some of his injuries could’ve come from rough play with his siblings, abuse could not be ruled out.

Some of the injuries the boys suffered did have a pattern of abuse, the doctor told police.

Whoever picked up the boys from Dishong’s house was alarmed enough to begin calling others involved with the boys, and soon someone called emergency dispatchers, according to court documents.

When questioned by police, Dishong said the oldest had gotten in trouble for stealing peanut butter but she only used standing in a corner, sitting on a chair or sending the boys to their rooms as punishment. She never bound the oldest boy or abused his siblings, she said in court documents.

A warrant has been issued for Dishong’s arrest.

She is currently facing the following felony charges:

  • Level 3 Domestic battery resulting in serious bodily injury to someone under 14 years of age
  • Level 5 Domestic battery resulting in bodily injury to someone under 14 years of age
  • Level 5 Domestic battery resulting in bodily injury to someone under 14 years of age
  • Level 5 Domestic battery resulting in bodily injury to someone under 14 years of age
  • Level 3 Neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury
  • Level 5 Neglect of a dependent
  • Level 5 Neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury
  • Level 6 Neglect of a dependent