A body of a four-year-old Las Vegas boy was found in a garage freezer. The discovery came after a schoolgirl gave her teacher a note saying that her mother was held captive and believed her brother was dead. The mother’s boyfriend was arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping, said authorities on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Brandon Lee Toseland, 35, was arrested after police saw him leave his residence with the mother in a vehicle. The officers also found handcuffs, said Las Vegas homicide Lt. Ray Spencer.
The woman endured months of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from the man, who threatened to kill her children if she left him, said a lawyer speaking for the woman and her family per the Associated Press.
She sent a message with her daughter to school after going more than 10 weeks without seeing her son.
“There was never a time when her daughter was with her that she was not locked in a room, bound or handcuffed,” attorney Stephen Stubbs said of the mother. “There was never an opportunity to take her daughter and run.”
To avoid identifying a victim of sexual abuse, AP is not naming the mother or children. The mother does not want her name made public, Stubbs said.
Sometimes, Toseland used restraints to keep the victim in his custody; the woman told detectives, Spencer said. December 11 was the last time the mother had seen her child. According to the woman, Toseland told her the boy had fallen ill and “that it was too late.”
“I remember that quote,” Spencer told AP. “There are still a lot of questions that we don’t have answers to.”
Eventually, Toseland told the woman her son was dead, police said in the arrest report for Toseland, “and said she would not be allowed to see his body because he would lose his freedom.” The report noted that Toseland never called the police or paramedics.
Toseland was an acquaintance of the woman’s late husband, the father of her children, and she knew him, Stubbs said. The husband died in January 2021 of an unspecified respiratory illness. According to Stubbs, the girl is now 7.
Toseland “slowly and methodically” increased control over them; covering windows, using surveillance video, taking the mother’s cell phone, cutting her ties to her family, handling all of the woman’s social media; after the three moved into Toseland’s house in March 2021, Stubbs said.
“The mother was physically, sexually, and emotionally abused,” Stubbs said. “The children were physically and emotionally abused and separated from their mother most of the time.”
Until December, the woman worked as a phlebotomist, and then her job received a text message that she had quit, Stubbs said.
Although she was handcuffed during vehicle trips, the mother found a pen and a pad of sticky notes in the car. When Toseland wasn’t looking, she was able “to write notes, little by little, and hide them,” Stubbs said in a statement. On Tuesday, her daughter delivered about nine notes to her teacher.
In the notes, the woman said she was being held against her will, police said. She “did not know the whereabouts of her toddler and … believed the child was possibly deceased.”
The woman told detectives she had been abused by Toseland and was not allowed to leave the house alone or enter the garage, police said.
Police obtained a search warrant before they found the child’s frozen body, Spencer said. Toseland owns the two-story, three-bedroom stucco house, property records show.
Clark County School District police Lt. Bryan Zink would not specify the girl’s grade level or identify the elementary school where the teacher gave the notes to administrators who called the police.
On Wednesday, Toseland made an initial court appearance on two felony kidnapping charges before a Las Vegas judge. He was ordered to remain jailed pending Thursday’s open murder charge appearance. It was not clear if Toseland had hired an attorney.
The police were still gathering evidence in the case, Spencer said. The boy’s body was still intact, although some visible bruises pointed to abuse. Spencer did not describe the injuries.
The mother told police that Toseland “was disciplining the boy extensively.” The boy’s sister described severe bruising, Stubbs said.
Clark County coroner will determine the cause of death.
Spencer did not know Toseland’s employment status.