DES MOINES, Iowa — A Des Moines woman is facing child endangerment charges after police say she tied up her three children as a way to control them.
The woman in question is 38 year-old Jessica Henderson. She denies the child endangerment charges, claiming the man who turned her in was actually behind the abuse.
Photos show children ages nine, five, and four tied up with black cord around their hands, their faces twisted into tears.
“You know, I don’t even know where you come up with this. When we talk about discipline or guidance or reinstruction, or whatever you want to call it, nowhere in my playbook is tying up your kids,” said Des Moines Police Spokesman Paul Parizek.
Police say that a family friend, Alvin Spencer, was visiting the home in March and discovered the kids tied up. They say he took pictures and told Henderson it wasn’t OK. According to police she said it was the only way to control the children. Spencer says said he didn’t come to authorities right away with the photos, wanting to stay out of it, but the photos he took weighed on him. He says a friend told him he should come forward.
“He convinced me, he said, ‘I’d do it if I were you’ and this is a preacher so I took his word and I went over there and I showed it to the [children’s] principal,” said Spencer.
The principal at River Woods Elementary called DHS and police who opened the case on Friday August 31st. Henderson, however, denies that she tied her children up and actually says Spencer is the one who did it while she was in the bathroom.
“I had my kids playing, as a single mom, I came out to my kids screaming, he had them tied up, he was laughing, taking pictures, saying I’m going to do everything to have your kids taken away from you. I will not ever do that to my children,” said Henderson.
An allegation Spencer says is a lie.
“I know she’s lying, and god knows she’s lying, so I ‘aint got nothing to worry about. I’m not over there, I didn’t disrespect them kids, I helped them,” said Spencer.
Spencer does have a long criminal background with guilty pleas related to domestic abuse, but police say in this case they believe he is telling the truth.
“The only thing we would have probably asked to be done differently is that we were notified immediately, but outside of that he absolutely did the right thing, and kudos to the school for being swift with this,” said Parizek.
Henderson is scheduled to be arraigned on October 22. Police say the children are safe but are not disclosing where they are currently living.