Mother, Brother Defend Torture Suspect

"He couldn't have done something like that."

The fourth suspect in the case of a teen who authorities say was shackled and tortured went to the home where the boy was allegedly held occasionally to watch football games, according to his mother.

But Alice Waiters says neither she nor her son, 29-year-old Anthony Waiters, ever saw the 16-year-old boy.

Waiters makes his first court appearance today, two days after his arrest on suspicion of torture, conspiracy, child endangerment, corporal injury to a child and false imprisonment charges.

"This is shocking. I know my son, the child that I raised, and he couldn't have done something like that. This is a bunch of trumped-up charges," Waiters told The Associated Press Wednesday.

A man who identified himself as Waiters' brother shouted at reporters who approached him for comment Wednesday.

After pulling up into the driveway on a motorcycle, the man said, "That's my brother. Leave him the f*#* alone." 

He went on to defend his brother saying Anthony had nothing to do with the case.

Police say a teenage boy was held against his will for more than a year at the home of Michael Schumacher, 34, and Kelly Layne Lau, 30, who along with the teen's one-time guardian, Caren Ramirez, 43, allegedly beat him, denied him food and sometimes kept him chained to the fireplace or a heavy table. Schumacher, Lau and Ramirez each face multiple abuse and related charges.

Waiters live right next door.

The boy ran away from the house last week by jumping over a backyard fence and finding help at a local fitness center. The boy was covered in soot, looked years younger than his age and was bleeding from where he was still shackled around his ankle.

"I'm not saying that boy wasn't abused," Alice Waiters said. "But he wasn't abused by my son."

Waiters said she and her son were interviewed by police last week and told authorities they never saw evidence of abuse at their neighbors' home. She said the couple and their four kids have lived in the neighborhood for about two years.

"I would say Michael seemed to be quiet and respectful. Kelly on the other hand, her attitude is questionable," Alice Waiters said. "She gives off the impression of living a rough-type life."

She said Ramirez joined the couple about 18 months ago and she would often wave at her, "being neighborly." Alice Waiters said she never wondered what Ramirez was doing there. "I don't get into anybody's business," she said.

Anthony Waiters is being held in the San Joaquin County Jail on $685,000 bail. No further information was released about his arrest, with police citing a judge's gag order in the case.

Schumacher, Lau and Ramirez each are being held in lieu of more than $2.2 million bail at the San Joaquin County Jail. They have yet to enter pleas and are due back in court Jan. 5. Calls to their attorneys were not returned.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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