Concord mother charged with torturing son

Last modified: 4/19/2013 9:48:17 AM
On a quiet Penacook street, a Concord man was tortured – beaten, burned and starved – by his mother and another person living in the home, the police said.

Christine Gelineau of Concord and Daniel Tyler Cantrell of Sparta, Tenn., were charged yesterday with a string of felonies and held on $200,000 cash bail. The police said Gelineau and Cantrell abused Gelineau’s 18-year-old son by holding lighters to his body, strangling him and forcing him to eat feces.

The mother is charged with burning her child’s penis.

At this point, officials see no apparent motivation.

The abuse, which the police said took place at 52-year-old Gelineau’s home in the Island Shore Estates community, is among the “most disturbing” detectives have ever seen, Concord police Lt. Timothy O’Malley said.

While O’Malley said the torture lasted at least several weeks, all but one of the charges detail incidents from April 10 to 14. Cantrell, 20, is also charged with grabbing the man’s ankle and twisting it until it broke sometime between March 10 and April 14.

The police said officials at the state Division for Children, Youth and Families were first notified by the parents of a 12-year-old girl who witnessed the abuse while staying at the home for a weekend with her friend. That friend is the daughter of Gelineau’s niece, who also lives there, said prosecutor Tracy Connolly.

The police were unsure yesterday of Cantrell’s relationship to the family. But Cantrell said at his arraignment that Gelineau’s niece is pregnant with his child. Connolly said he’s been in Concord since late February or early March.

DCYF contacted the Concord police Monday, according to an affidavit in the case.

The police said detectives initially interviewed Gelineau’s son and Cantrell together, at which time the 18-year-old man claimed his injuries were self-inflicted.

“That story has been maintained for the most part until recently by the victim because of his fear of what may happen to him,” Connolly said at the arraignment.

Severe burns

The most unsettling injuries described in court documents pertain to the man’s burns.

According to the affidavit, Gelineau burned her son’s penis and Cantrell burned his nipples, holding a lighter to them for about two minutes as he screamed in pain. Throughout that incident, Gelineau beat her son over the head with a stick, the police said.

A detective reviewing the man’s injuries noted that his nipples were “completely burned off,” according to the affidavit. Doctors at Concord Hospital, where Connolly said the man was taken Wednesday and was still being treated yesterday, said he suffered second- and third-degree burns.

Gelineau is also accused of stabbing her son with a pen and kicking him in the face. The police said on several occasions Cantrell pulled a piece of fabric around the man’s throat so tightly that he couldn’t breathe. He’s also accused of confining the man in a bedroom and tying his hands behind his back so Gelineau could burn his genitals with a lighter.

Another charge accuses Cantrell of holding a lit cigarette against the back of the man’s neck.

Both Gelineau and Cantrell withheld food from the man, and Cantrell forced him to drink urine, according to the affidavit.

While the 12-year-old girl was at the home for the weekend, she took a picture on her cell phone of Gelineau’s son sitting at a table being forced to eat what she said were worms, according to the affidavit. Several photographs were sealed from public view at the court yesterday.

“He was also told that if he did not eat some worms that were provided to him that they were going to burn his penis. He did in fact eat the worms,” Connolly said.

They burned him anyway, she said.

The abuse was mental as well as physical, O’Malley said, and while the man was not held captive at the home, he nonetheless felt helpless to leave.

“This is his world, and it’s easy to say, ‘I would have gotten out of there. Why didn’t he leave? Why didn’t he fight back?’ ” O’Malley said. “We’re looking at some pretty serious assaults. We’re alleging that there was witness tampering and a lot of fear involved in this, and we believe he really didn’t have any other options.”

‘Very little emotion’

Many of the charges stem from the girl’s descriptions but also from Cantrell’s and Gelineau’s own admissions of how they tortured the man, Connolly said.

“In speaking with the police (on Tuesday, Cantrell) recited what he did to the victim with very little emotion, which causes the state . . . to have a heightened concern for safety of the public,” she said.

Cantrell and Gelineau were both arraigned yesterday by video feeds from the county jail, where they are being held.

The mother didn’t argue for a lower bail or say anything on her own behalf.

Cantrell spoke only to tell Judge Gerard Boyle that he wanted to be transferred to Tennessee because he has no family in New Hampshire.

“I have no way of doing anything. I really don’t know what to do, honestly. I’m not saying what I’ve done was right. It was wrong but –” he said before Boyle cut him off, saying he didn’t want to hear anything about the case.

The judge told Cantrell that he would be appointed a lawyer and could discuss his legal questions then.

The police investigation is still open and more charges are possible, O’Malley said.

He said detectives are looking into whether Gelineau’s son was abused beyond the four days in April and the incident in which his ankle was broken.

The police are also continuing to investigate whether Gelineau’s niece was involved in the assaults, O’Malley said. According to the affidavit, the 12-year-old girl reported seeing all of the adults participate in the abuse.

The woman, who is named in the affidavit but not here because she hasn’t been charged, told the police she only witnessed the incidents.

O’Malley said the police are also interested in the pair’s motivation.

“It’s not a money thing. It’s not about jealously. There are a lot of things that can create motive,” he said. “Right now the best thing we can come up with is abject cruelty.”

A neighbor who lives near Gelineau on Modena Drive said the family moved in only about a month ago. He described them as quiet and standoffish. O’Malley said he’s unsure how long Gelineau has lived in Concord. She told detectives that she is originally from the Haverhill, Mass., area, but O’Malley said that hasn’t been confirmed.

Cantrell is on probation in Tennessee, according to Connolly, who said his criminal history there includes charges of aggravated criminal trespassing and failure to appear in court. She didn’t list any criminal history for Gelineau, and a search at the court resulted in no past charges.

Cantrell is facing eight Class B felonies and two Class A misdemeanors. Gelineau has been charged with three Class B felonies and two Class A misdemeanors. Most of the charges are for various forms of assault, but both Gelineau and Cantrell have also been charged with coercing the man to lie to the police.

They have both been scheduled for probable cause hearings, where a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for the case to be forwarded to a Merrimack County grand jury, on April 29.



(Tricia L. Nadolny can be reached at 369-3306 or tnadolny@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @tricia_nadolny.)


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