MISHAWAKA — A Mishawaka man has been arrested on child neglect and criminal confinement charges for allegedly locking one child in a closet and confining others to a homemade cage, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Nick Matney has been charged with four counts of neglect of a dependent and two counts of criminal confinement.
The case was investigated by the Indiana Department of Child Services and the St. Joseph County Special Victims Unit.
The case was investigated after a tip to DCS.
Five children, ages 8, 6, 5, 4, and 1, reside in the home. Four of the children spoke with investigators.
The 8-year-old told investigators the 6-year-old is forced to go into a closet as punishment. She said Matney put a nail in the door and a nail in the wall and the door is tied shut. The 6-year-old is only allowed out to go to the restroom, according to the probable cause affidavit.
The 8-year-old said the 5-year-old is placed in a crib when he is bad and a baby gate is placed over the crib and it is tied down with clothes, according to the probable cause affidavit.
She told investigators the 5-year-old has to wear a diaper because Matney doesn’t want him out of the crib to go to the bathroom, reports said.
The 5-year-old spoke with investigators and said he is often spanked with a belt and when he goes to bed a gate is tied over it so he can’t get out, according to the probable cause affidavit.
The 6-year-old told investigators she has to sleep on the floor of the closet with no pillow or blankets. She admitted sometimes she has to go to the bathroom in there, according to the probable cause affidavit.
The children’s mother admitted the 6-year-old is in the closet almost all the time except for study time.
She told investigators she does what Matney says in order to keep him calm and that he punishes the children to cause her pain, according to the probable cause affidavit.
A search warrant was obtained for the home. Investigators said the closet in the downstairs bedroom did not have nails in the door or the wall but there were holes in the door and the trim. A nail, a screw and a shoelace were located in a garbage can, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Investigators located two cribs in upstairs bedrooms. Both had scuff marks on the top. In the garage, two baby gates were located, reports said.
Coworkers of the children’s mother said they were trying to help the mother leave. At least two coworkers observed the closet door with the ties on it.
Matney was arrested on April 3 and has been released on bond. He is on GPS monitoring.