Stepmother on Trial for Torturing Husband’s Sons With Ice Baths, Beatings, and Starvation

Two East Tennessee brothers provided graphic details in court on Tuesday describing what one called a long history of abuse by their stepmother, Jessica Cox.

Austin McIntosh was 16 years old when Cox was arrested in 2013. She sat in court on Tuesday as Austin took the stand during the first full day of testimony.

He said Cox took him out of school in Jan. 2013 after she caught him during a sexual act with another boy.

Austin explained that his step-mom would handcuff him and his younger brother to the kitchen cabinet, starving him for days at a time and often forcing him to stand handcuffed for a week at a time.

Two cabinets were entered into evidence on Tuesday for the jury to see.

When the brothers tried to eat, Austin testified that Cox would punish them, even forcing him to eat cockroaches on more than one occasion.

Cox was charged with child abuse and aggravated child neglect after Austin and his younger brother, then ages 14 and 16, escaped from their home in May 2013 while handcuffed together and showed up more than three miles away at Farragut High School early one morning.

Custodian Richard Huff found them and called 911.

“I’m here at Farragut High School. I’ve got two little boys here,” said Huff in the 911 recording.  “They’re handcuffed together. Their parents have handcuffed them together.”

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Raishad Hardnett