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Utah couple arrested for starving, confining 5-year-old boy

Clarissa Anne Tobiasson and Brett Parker Tobiasson. (Utah County Sheriff's Office)

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) - Parents have been arrested for felony child abuse of their 5-year-old adopted son. Police say he was confined to a small room in the dark with no plumbing or light, and little comfort for up to 12 hours at a time.

Clarissa Anne Tobiasson, 27, and her husband Brett Parker Tobiasson, 31, both of Eagle Mountain, are accused of locking their son in a basement room for around 12 hours at a time, when he was 5 years old, according to the Utah County Sheriff's Office.

Police said the boy described going to the bathroom while in the room, putting the waste in a hole in the wall so he would not get in trouble, presumably for leaving waste on the floor. Investigators said the boy was fed a diet that largely consisted of carrots. He was, police said, required to eat carrots before every meal, and denied other food if he didn't finish his carrots in a certain time limit. In one instance, he was disciplined for eating samples at local store because his parents insisted he knew he was supposed to eat carrots before eating anything else.

Police said the arrests came after several months of investigation where workers with the Utah Division of Child and Family Services interviewed witnesses and the victim in the case.

The child was locked in the basement room, typically between the hours of 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. the following day. The room was said to be about 10 feet by 10 feet, had no light, a loose carpet covering the floor, and was locked from the outside. He had a mattress and a blanket to sleep with.

The parents were arrested, police said, for abuse where they intentionally inflicted "serious physical injury" on their son. They each face a second-degree felony charge. They were booked with bail set at $10,000.

Police said "serious physical injury" is defined by state statute as anything that "causes serious emotional harm to the child," or conduction toward the child that results in severe emotional developmental, intellectual development or a severe impairment of the child's ability to function.

The now 6-year-old boy was adopted by the couple, as was his 2-year-old brother. The couple also has a 2-month-old girl. The 6-year-old is in the care of a relative. The other two children are in the custody of DCFS.

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