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Our First Look at Step-Grandparents Behind Bars After Boy Was Allegedly Beaten, Starved, and Forced to Stand for Hours While Being Watched on Camera


Armin Rodriguez (L) and Susan Rodriguez (R)

The step-grandparents of a boy allegedly kept in “concentration camp“-like conditions have been arrested on child abuse charges after being indicted by grand jurors in Ohio late last week.

Armin Rodriguez, 70, and Susan Rodriguez, 67, each stand accused of one count each of child endangerment causing physical harm, and complicity with child endangerment, according to jail records reviewed by Law&Crime.

According to Newport, Ky.-based Fox affiliate WXIX, which serves the Cincinnati, Ohio metropolitan area, the two were booked into the Hamilton County Jail late afternoon on Memorial Day after “likely” turning themselves in at Cincinnati Police District 1.

According to court documents obtained by the TV station, the couple “recklessly tortured or cruelly abused the victim.”

The allegations largely echo those leveled against the couple’s daughter, Amy Dangel, 45, (also named in court records as Amy Rodriguez) in March of this year. Law enforcement have additionally charged the boy’s biological father, Anthony Dangel, 43, with child endangerment for creating a risk and failing to stop the alleged abuse.

Prosecutors allege the step-grandparents forced their step-grandson, 13, to stand in an unused room for hours on end as a form of punishment. During such periods of alleged abuse, the victim was also not allowed to use the restroom. To ensure compliance, Armin and Susan Rodriguez would allegedly monitor the boy with cameras.

Substantially similar allegations were made against their daughter, however, the camera detail appears specific and new to the couple.

Investigators also believe the step-grandparents directly attacked the boy with a belt and would withhold food from him–the same as the boy’s stepmother is alleged to have done.

“The torture perpetrated on this young child is unimaginable,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said in a statement. “He is safe now and with family members who love him. I hope, in time, he will heal from the horrible things that have been done to him. We will do everything in our power to ensure no child suffers at the hands of the Rodriguez family again.”

The complicity charges against the couple allege that they “aided or abetted Amy Dangel to commit the offense of endangering children.”

Prosecutors believe the abuse occurred over a period of three years beginning in 2018.

“This is disgusting and senseless,” Deters said earlier this year. “This is not a parent who lost control and made a mistake, but a woman who purposefully tortured a child for years. To do this to a child is beyond comprehension. There are some people who should simply never be parents.”

In addition to being beaten with belts, Amy Dangel is accused of using wooden spoons to attack the boy. She would also allegedly strap him to a bed and then beat him repeatedly in reprisal over his perceived infractions.

As a result of the sustained abuse, the boy now walks with a limp, suffers from intense pain, and is emotionally traumatized, his aunt, Heather Coombs, told WXIX. She also noted that the boy’s biological mother, Lisa Dangel, died in January 2016.

Allegations have also been made that Amy Dangel abused the 13-year-old’s younger brother, but at this time her charges are currently limited to charges related to the older sibling.

The boys’ aunt said she first heard allegations of abuse in 2019.

“They were completely isolated from society,” Coombs told the TV station in an interview in March of this year. “They were not in school. So teachers couldn’t see, and there was a reason for that.”

The boy’s father and stepmother were both previously employed by the Miami Township Fire Department. They were originally placed on administrative leave but both have since been fired.

[images via Hamilton County Jail]

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