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Father arrested, accused of not reporting alleged child abuse

Posted October 23, 2012

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— A Cameron father defended himself Tuesday against accusations that he failed to report that his ex-wife was allegedly abusing their children for more than a year.

Brad Thill said he was working in Afghanistan for a defense contractor and had no idea Leslie Tiesler was allegedly beating and starving three of their five children at their home on Calvary Church Road.

Investigators say Tiesler, 37, routinely locked three of their boys in a room and tool chest over a period of 14 months and denied them food, leaving them emaciated. She was arrested Oct. 16, charged with three counts of child abuse and was being held in the Harnett County Detention Center under a $1 million secured bond.

Thill was arrested Monday on three counts of misdemeanor child abuse and was released on a $5,000 bond.

In an interview Tuesday with WRAL News, Thill said he came home for a visit in December and said his boys appeared healthy and in good spirits. He even took them camping, he said. When he returned again in April, he saw a change.

"Immediately, I noticed that two of the children had lost a significant amount of weight, and my initial instinct was that they (have to) eat," Thill said, adding that he loaded up on groceries and power bars to put weight on the children. "My ex-wife stated to me that one of the children was forcing himself to vomit up his food and he would not sleep for days on end.”

Thill said he did not notify the Harnett County Department of Social Services because he was "trying to find out from the kids what was going on in the house."

"I did not know any of the abuse allegations until (the boys) were taken by DSS," he said.

Tiesler has one biological son, and the couple adopted four boys in 2008. The couple divorced in March 2010, and Tiesler moved away with the children, according to Thill. They reconciled, and Thill allowed them to stay in the house on Calvary Church Road while he was deployed, he said.

Thill said he always remembered Tiesler as a good mother.

"I had never known anything to have changed from the entire time from when I had met her until I came home in April of this year and noticed something drastic going on," he said. "Honestly, I don't know what drove her to do it. I've confronted her, trying to find out what happened, and she would just not talk to me."

Brad Thill Father accused of not reporting alleged child abuse

Three of the adopted children, ages 13 and 14, told authorities they were starved, shot with a BB gun, beaten with a wooden spoon, locked in a room and forced into a Stanly tool chest for days with no food and only a pipe inserted through a hole for air.

Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins says it's the worst case of child abuse he has ever seen and that it brought one of his detectives to tears.

"One of the kids, particularly, it's disturbing to look at the picture. It's just skin and bone," Rollins said.

The sheriff says Thill should have sought medical attention for the children or alerted authorities.

"He saw and observed those kids during that week (in April). He was present in that home that week, and we're saying it's incumbent on you to do something," Rollins said.

The story unfolded months ago, when the Harnett County DSS began investigating Tiesler based on a complaint from a neighbor who was concerned about the condition of the children. Authorities said the two other children may have participated in the abuse.

Search warrants say the children were locked inside the tool chest for punishment and forced to sleep in a cardboard storage box. The warrants also say the boys were barricaded in a room for long periods of time, deprived of food. Investigators say Thill had been home a week before a neighbor called social services.

Since they were removed from the home, Tiesler's children have gained weight. One child has gained 27 pounds; the second child has gained 20 pounds; and the third has gained 10 pounds, authorities said.

Thill said he is allowed limited visits with the boys, all of whom are in foster care. He said they appear to be healthy.

63 Comments

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  • itsmyownopinion Oct 24, 4:15 p.m.

    Many parents to be go oversees to adopt,giving them the monies,because it's less paperwork and expense.How horribly sad that the children are the ones to suffer.Child abuse should not come with any type or amount of bond period...deny,deny,deny. lakeyk1

    You're so right. Immediately three young mothers I've known since they were babies themselves came to mind when I read your post, and they are all wonderful mothers.

  • deidie Oct 24, 3:54 p.m.

    I am just mad as hell. How can a Mother do such a thing and yes the Father should have had Questions when he took the Boys Camping. Anyone in there right Mind will want to know what has happen.He needed to get those Boys aside and drill them hard. To my Notion he is guilty also. The Mother of cause, if you want to call her that, should be going to prison FOR EVER.It is always about Money, Money Money. Nobody cares anymore about someones Life.Besides Prison, they should have to pay back every Cent they collected from the State.I am a Mother of 4 and a Grand Mother of seven. I just cannot believe what those poor Children went throu.I hope and pray it will NOT leave a Mark on those Kids and God will help them. God bless the Neighbor who put a stop to this terrible Crime

  • greeneyedirishlady Oct 24, 1:37 p.m.

    To respond to One Love about Foster Monies: It is my understanding that YES, Foster Parent(s) get money for each Foster Child in their home. Plus that amount goes up if they are caring for a child/teen with challanges. I read on a web site that when a foster child is adopted, the adopting family ALSO gets money from the state.

    The intention of the Foster Care system is to protect the children. It is the corruption of humans that give it a bad name. It can be all about the money and that is sick, isnt it?

  • greeneyedirishlady Oct 24, 1:19 p.m.

    I pray that the sitting Judge does not allow visitation between the Mother and the children. Thankfully the children are getting the care they deserve.
    As for as the father although I do not know him I do not believe he was fully aware of what was going on. Try to keep in mind this woman is his ex wife. The dynamic of a divorced couple can be very unique. Fact is she kept the children homeschooled, she kept the children locked UP for goodness sake in a tool chest.The horror and manipulation in that home for those children (all of them) must have been awful. She has custody she manipulated the children into horror I bet she manipulated her ex husband too. Hense they are divorced.
    Thankfully the neighbor called into DSS since they lived right there. Do I blame the Father no because all fingers point back to the Mother and our community who live right here. Surely someone besides the one neighbor knows this family.
    WE must take a stand to speak up. GET INVOLVED, dont turn a blind eye.

  • lakeyk1 Oct 24, 12:54 p.m.

    The father may not have known about the abuse prior to coming home,but he found the children looking frail and thin and at that time should have stepped up and took the boys home with him to find out what was going on.The boys were probably too scared to talk to him with the mother there,and she wasn't going to admit guilt.So yes,I feel he failed these children also.Child abuse is so sick and sad as these children have no one to help or believe them,until one person steps up and reports that something isn't right,sometimes to late.I know of so many good parents that want to adopt,but the system in the US makes it too expensive,hard and time consuming.In doing so the system is depriving children of loving homes.Many parents to be go oversees to adopt,giving them the monies,because it's less paperwork and expense.How horribly sad that the children are the ones to suffer.Child abuse should not come with any type or amount of bond period...deny,deny,deny. lakeyk1

  • monami Oct 24, 12:04 p.m.

    "Believe what you may Weetie, but there is so much to this story that is not being told to the public! This father knew nothing of abuse!!" mjones

    Well, that's a HUGE problem, isn't it? He's the father. It's his JOB TO KNOW! He had a clue, just didn't act. Claiming ignorance isn't an excuse. NEGLECT.

  • morebadnews Oct 24, 10:35 a.m.

    dejmorris....these children were doing homeschool

  • morebadnews Oct 24, 10:34 a.m.

    msha....why would DSS "check on the children"? DSS does not do random checks on children without complaints.

  • itsmyownopinion Oct 24, 10:30 a.m.

    Believe what you may Weetie, but there is so much to this story that is not being told to the public! This father knew nothing of abuse!!
    mjones4064

    Then what do you know and how do you know it?

  • itsmyownopinion Oct 24, 10:15 a.m.

    Don't give a passive father a pass. While the abuse was on the present parent (the "mother") the "father" knew nothing was right at home, or he wouldn't have gone and bought groceries, etc. Why did he not take a leave and do right by the children? She needs to be locked up for a long time to think about what she has done and never have children in her home -- EVER. What an epic fail, just another one to hang on Social Service that does not work. Everybody who knew about this, or came in contact with these helpless kids should be ashamed for not doing something to get them out of this situation.

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