Police said A 12-year-old boy, James Alex Hurley, in Montana was found dead following physical abuse and forced exercises by grandparents and uncle who were charges of torturing the boy to death.
The grandparents and uncle of a 12-year-old boy in Montana state have been charged in connection with his grandparents, James Sasser Jr. and Patricia Batts, for the last two years death after police say they found evidence of them torturing the child.
James Alex Hurley was found dead inside a living room who had been living with his grandparents and uncle for the last two years after being sent to Montana by his mother to live with his father. James’ mother lives in Texas. James’ father died in 2018, which is why he ended up living with his grandparents and uncle, the complaint said.
The report said that the couple’s children including their 14-year-old son, who was James’ uncle, is being charged as a minor in the case.
Police investigators told the court in its documents that videos found by police show a pattern of abuse that included forced exercises and physical abuse.
Detectives found video from about two years ago in which James “appeared to be a healthy and well fed boy,” court documents said. At the time of his death, detectives said James “appeared to be emaciated,” according to the documents.
“I believe the systematic torture and beatings are perpetrated on the victim in this case that led to his death,” Bjorn Boyer, deputy county attorney with the Gallatin County Attorney’s Office told CNN.
The suspects have all three been charged with one count of deliberate homicide, according to court documents.
A fourth person, Gage Roush, 18, was also arrested for felony assault on a minor. Court documents allege that Roush, a family friend, could be seen on cell phone video beating Hurley with a paddle.
Batts told detectives she found James’s body on February 3 in the living room area, the complaint said.
James’s body was taken to the Montana State Crime Lab for an autopsy on February 4; it said his preliminary cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the back of his head, the complaint said. Toxicology reports are pending.
Detectives seized the cell phones of the uncle and grandparents and put together a timeline based on videos of abuse dating back to December 2019.
Instances of the abuse included James being forced to do exercises — jumping jacks and wall squats — along with standing in front of a fan with no clothing but his underwear, according to the complaint. Videos reviewed by detectives also showed the suspects spraying James in the face with an unknown substance that burned him and choking him, the complaint said.
During the search of the home, detectives found food in the house was locked up so James did not have access to it, the complaint read.