Prosecutors in northwest Missouri have filed 52 counts of child abuse or neglect against a couple whose daughter told an investigator she would kill herself if she had to be with her parents again.
The parents, identified in court records as Joseph M. Gorham, 30, and Tiffany M. Gorham, 28, were charged earlier in May and remain in custody.
Both have entered not-guilty pleas in the case.
An investigator with the Missouri State Technical Assistance Team started investigating the Gorhams in late March after someone called the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline to report the couple's alleged abuse of their 8-year-old daughter.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
In April, the girl described multiple instances of physical and verbal abuse to the investigator in an interview.
The girl said "bad stuff started happening" when she was 5 or 6, including fights between her parents. She said her parents blamed her for their problems and said they didn't like being around her.
Records said that in April 2016, the Gorhams allegedly struck her legs, back and rear. The girl said they used their hands at first, and then used cords or belts, switches, and boards or wooden paddles to hit her. She said that while one parent was hitting her, another held her down while she was bent over the edge of a bed.
The girl described another incident last December when Joseph Gorham allegedly beat her with a plastic tube from their vacuum cleaner, leaving her with bruises on her forehead, cheeks, hands, arms, legs and rear.
She said she reported the beating to her grandparents, who photographed the bruises and showed the photos to medical personnel in April at Children's Mercy in Kansas City.
The hospital also saw photos of the girl's injuries from another incident in March when Tiffany Gorham allegedly hit the girl multiple times with a wooden paddle or board.
Records indicated medical personnel determined the girl was a victim of physical and psychological abuse, and were also concerned because it appeared the girl had rarely been seen by a doctor or a dentist. In an interview, the girl stated she would kill herself if she had to go back to her parents because she couldn't live like that anymore, court records said.
She also said she had missed a lot of school days this year because her parents allegedly wanted to keep her bruises hidden.
The investigator in the case also interviewed the girl's brother, who reported that he and his sister were spanked and beaten often by both parents.
They were threatened with more spankings and beatings if they told anyone of the alleged abuse, records said.
In the interview, the brother recounted a time his sister had to eat her meals and wash dishes before a timer went off. If the timer went off before she was done, he said, she was beaten or forced to sprint in the home.
The investigator also interviewed other members of the girl's family, who described acts of torment toward the girl.
In one instance, family told the investigator that the couple made the girl go outside at night to feed the dogs after telling her there was a cougar or bad people stalking the house.
The family members also said the girl was forced to eat, which caused her to throw up several times last spring. They said the girl would have to wear her clothing covered in vomit and clean it up herself.
Another witness said the Gorhams have called their daughter "ignorant," "moron," "stupid" and "brain dead."
According to court records, Joseph Gorham warned his family members he would discipline his children how he saw fit and described torturing or killing anyone who takes the children away from him.
Joseph Gorham and Tiffany Gorham each face 26 counts of abuse or neglect of a child. They remain in the Ray County jail with bonds set at $100,000, cash only.
Their cases are pending.