For years, a boy, who has remained unnamed, would spend his days in Union County, N.C. handcuffed and shackled to a steel anvil. He always feared the moment he would start to hear footsteps near his room because he knew once the grown-ups entered, the abuse would resume.
He was whipped with belts, burned with electrical wires and his fingers were broken with pliers - all to "teach him a lesson." The abusers, who have since pleaded guilty and sentenced to prison three months ago, were his adoptive mother, Wanda Sue Larson - a supervisor with the Department of Social Services in Union County - and her longtime boyfriend, Dorian Harper, an emergency room nurse, according to Daily Mail.
The abuse finally ended in November 2013 after police discovered the boy in handcuffs, chained to the front porch of the house with a dead chicken hung around his neck.
When police entered the roach-infested house that was "covered with urine and animal feces," they found something else: four other children, ages 7 to 14, who had been adopted by the couple over the years. The children were removed and placed in protective custody, according to ABC News' Philadelphia Associate.
While all the children were victims of abuse, the now-13-year old boy recieved the brunt of it.
"I was scared to death. I thought I wouldn't survive," he told the Associated Press.
Despite her horrific crimes, Larson, 58, was sentenced to just 17 months in prison on four counts of child abuse. Larson was given credit for time served after the child abuse arrest and was released from jail on April 9.
Harper, 58, was sentenced to up to 10-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty on March 17 to "maiming, intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury and assault with a deadly weapon."
The boy now lives with his biological mother - in the same county that his abuser has resettled to, according to Examiner.
So why was he in foster care to begin with?
Court documents show he was "put in foster care a decade ago after problems arose at the home of an aunt where he had been staying while his mother was moving from another state, and he ended up with Larson. When the boy's mother found out he was in foster care, she tried to get him back, but Larson said the boy had developed a bond with her family and he stayed with her. Eventually she became his legal guardian," the AP reports.
The boy told the AP that Larson lied about where his mother was - telling him that she was in the hospital and could not see him.
"She'd say, 'Your mom is in the hospital. She's there because of your behavior. You're killing her,'" he said.
The boy now sees a therapist twice a week. His mother said he is recovering, but still wakes up suffering from horrid nightmares that his abusers have taken him away from his mom.
"I woke up and I thought it was real," he said. "It was just a dream, but I couldn't go back to sleep."