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Two people face child abuse and assault charges after school officials and White Oak police said they found two children handcuffed in the back seat of their car.
According to court records, Richard Hayes, 37, of Mt. Oliver is being held in the Allegheny County Jail without bail, while his girlfriend, Natosha Bell, 26, of Rankin is free on $50,000 bond. Hayes faces a preliminary hearing May 19 before Magisterial District Judge Richard G. King, while Bell faces a preliminary hearing June 30.
The two children who were restrained in the car, ages 7 and 10, and a third child, age 11, are now in the emergency care of Allegheny County Children, Youth and Families, said county police Inspector Michael Peairs.
County police said White Oak officers responded to Francis McClure Middle School on Wednesday afternoon when school officials reported that an 11-year-old child was refusing to get into his father’s car upon dismissal.
When school officials looked inside the vehicle, they noticed two children who were handcuffed, and called police.
White Oak police detained the two adults in the vehicle, identified as Hayes and Bell, county police said. A loaded handgun was discovered on Hayes, police said.
Police said the 10-year-old and 11-year-old are half-siblings and are related to Hayes, while the 7-year-old child is a half-sibling of the 10-year-old child, and is related to that child’s mother.
While speaking with the children, police said, county investigators determined that all of them had been subjected to physical abuse while under the care of Hayes and Bell. Peairs said a search was conducted at Hayes’ home in Mt. Oliver and detectives found evidence substantiating the childrens’ testimony, but he did not elaborate.
Both Hayes and Bell are charged by Allegheny County police with aggravated assault, unlawful restraint of a minor, false imprisonment of a minor, endangering the welfare of children and simple assault. Hayes also is charged with possession of a weapon on school property.
At a preliminary arraignment on Thursday morning, Magisterial District Judge James A. Motznik denied bail to Hayes after prosecutors argued that he represents a danger to the children if he is released.
Peairs said the investigation is continuing. Anyone with information about the case is being asked to call the Allegheny County police tip line at 1-833-ALL-TIPS (1-833-255-8477). Callers may remain anonymous.
Originally published May 06, 2021.