Police say a West Virginia man kept his badly abused wife in chains.
A West Virginia man was arrested Thursday for allegedly making his wife his slave, abusing her and holding her hostage for almost a decade.
Authorities in Jackson County, W.Va., charged Peter Lizon of Leroy, W.Va., with malicious wounding after a woman staying at a domestic-violence shelter filed a criminal complaint, alleging a woman she met was brutally beaten by her husband.
In an interview with investigators, the woman said she met Lizon’s wife, Stephanie, 43, while staying at the Family Crisis Intervention Center in Parkersburg, W.Va., and described her as “gaunt and filthy.”
According to the criminal complaint, Stephanie told the woman that she recently escaped from her husband, who had kept her chained up with metal padlocks for about 10 years, which tore into the skin on her hands and ankles, leaving noticeable scar tissue. Her feet were also “mutilated and swollen” after her husband allegedly smashed her foot with a scoop attachment from a farm tractor.
West Virginia Regional Jail
A West Virginia man, Peter Lizon, was arrested and charged with malicious wounding for allegedly enslaving his wife for 10 years.
“This is a case that is tenfold of what our average domestic is and maybe more than that,” Jackson County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tony Boggs told NBC affiliate WSAZ. “It comes down to what appears to be slavery and torture.”
Lizon reportedly called his wife his "slave," and whenever he entered the room, he made her kneel down before him.
The woman also alleged that Stephanie said her husband caused her to have a miscarriage after her husband hit her in the stomach. She said she buried the corpse of a fully developed infant on their farm. She also said she gave birth to another baby while bound by chains, but neither she nor her now-one-year-old child had received any medical attention.
During the investigation, police obtained 45 photos of Stephanie from the shelter, showing injuries ranging from severe burns to her breasts and back to broken fingers and bruises all over her body.
“It’s amazing what one human being can do to another,” Boggs said, “and that should not ever happen or be allowed to happen. And hopefully this will stop and curtail that, at least in this instance.”
Lizon’s attorney, Shawn Bayliss, told WSAZ the allegations against Lizon are false, saying the woman who told police everything has a “feeble mind.”
Lizon is being held in the South Central Regional Jail in lieu of $300,000 bail.
Chief Boggs told msnbc.com malicious wounding is likely to net Lizon between two to 10 years in prison.
According to the criminal complaint, Stephanie escaped from Lizon on June 18 while he was returning farm equipment to a rental store in Parkersburg. He left her and their child in the family's vehicle. While Lizon was inside, she walked away, leaving her child in the car, and hid in a Zumba dance facility. People there gave her money for a taxi ride to the shelter where checked in under the name "Serena Sokol." Staff at the shelter later determined her true identity. She was treated for her injuries in an emergency room on June 20.
Chief Boggs told msnbc.com he would not discuss the current whereabouts of Lizon’s one-year-old child, but said child protective services have been made aware of the situation.
A spokesperson for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services told msnbc.com that state law forbids child protective services from disclosing the details of specific cases.
More content from msnbc.com and NBC News:
- Sister gets text: 'The girl with this phone is dead'
- Drop the 'i' word? Debating the term 'illegal immigrant'
- San Bernardino becomes 3rd Calif. city in 2 weeks to file for bankruptcy protection
- Ohio governor grants clemency to death row inmate
- Episcopal Church becomes biggest US church to bless gay unions
- Video: Teacher goes airborne on police pursuit