The family members of a six-year-old Missouri boy are facing charges after they allegedly staged a fake kidnapping to teach him that strangers can be dangerous, according to an Associated Press report. During the staged kidnapping, the boy was tied up, blindfolded, and threatened with a gun—then held captive in his own basement during the ordeal that lasted for four hours.
His relatives believe they were only educating the child about the potential dangers of being nice to strangers.
The boy’s mother, grandmother, and aunt said they did it because the boy was “too nice” to strangers, and they thought he might put himself in dangerous situations. According to a press release from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, the family maintains they did nothing wrong.
Authorities said the three women wanted to scare the boy to teach him a lesson, so they had an acquaintance lure the child into his pickup truck after school one day.
The man, a co-worker of the aunt’s, allegedly told the boy he wouldn’t “see his mommy again,” and that he’d be “nailed to the wall of a shed.” He also reportedly brandished a handgun to get the child to stop crying.
The boy’s hands and feet were tied with plastic bags, and he was blindfolded with a jacket before he was locked in a basement in his own home. While in the basement, his pants were removed and he was allegedly told he would be sold into sex slavery, according to a CNN report.
The child was then released and allowed to go upstairs, where his family lectured him about being cautious around strangers.
His mother, 25-year-old Elizabeth Hupp, is charged with felony kidnapping and felony abuse and neglect of a child. His aunt, her co-worker, and his grandmother are charged with felonious restraint.