The 6-Year-Old Chained In A Closet By His Own Family | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN


It was the year 2000
when we told his story. Back then we couldn’t say
his name or show his face, but so many of
you were outraged. He was a six-year-old
little boy who had endured some of the
most heinous child abuse our nation had ever heard. Try to imagine what it would
be like for a small child to be locked inside a closet
very much like this one. Our crew reconstructed
this closet based on police evidence photos. It is less than 2
feet by 2 fate– by 2 feet. And inside, Clayton’s
little body– look at this– Clayton’s little body was
wrapped in a wire fence and then bound with
chains like an animal. He wasn’t given food for days. Sometimes he would eat
pieces of a paper bag that were left in this closet. Even more unfathomable, this was
not at the hands of strangers. While living in a
small Indiana town, six-year-old Clayton was
terrorized and brutally abused by the very people
who are supposed to protect and care for him– his father, Joseph,
and stepmother, Carmen. For months, Clayton was
locked inside an airless, dark bathroom closet, often
for 24 hours at a time. Inside the closet
was another horror. The small boy was tightly
bound in wire fencing then wrapped and locked in chains. Clayton had to stand for
agonizing hours on end, even while sleeping. His tiny neck and chest bore
scars from the wire and chains cutting into his bare skin. When Clayton could no longer
hold his bodily functions, he was forced to go to
the bathroom on himself. His stepmother
punished him by rubbing his own feces in his face. Then his father
would urinate on him. The only kindness
Clayton ever received was from his
14-year-old stepsister, who let him out
and fed him cereal when both parents were away. While his stepsister was
spared the cruel abuse, she was still
desperate to escape. She ran away to Kentucky
and was picked up by police. She begged them not
to take her back home and eventually confessed her
family’s horrifying secret. So as I said, Clayton was
just six years old when he was rescued from that closet. Back then he could
not speak for himself about his unimaginable ordeal. Today he is a
19-year-old young man and telling his story in his
own words for the first time. You’ll be astonished
at his resilience. Please welcome Clayton. [APPLAUSE] Howdy. Howdy. So welcome.
Thank you. Welcome. Welcome. So what do you remember
about those years? Do you remember
the very first time you were put in the closet? I don’t. I mean, I just– I remember being in
there and just wondering, you know, when am
I going to get out? And just it seemed like
forever, an eternity that I was in there. The police believed that you
were locked in there for, what, three to six months, they say. Yes. Do you have any idea? I was in there quite a bit. I mean, very, very seldom
was I let, you know, out. And when I was, I was
locked in my bedroom. And do you remember
your stepsister letting you out to feed you cereal?
– Yes. Cheerios. OPRAH WINFREY: Cheerios. So, I mean, it was
when they left– very, very seldomly when
they were both gone, you know, she’d let me out. I’d sit down watch
TV with her, have cereal, a sandwich, whatever. You know, just– Were there ever any other
children around near you? I mean, outside maybe. OPRAH WINFREY: Yeah. I mean, could you–
could you ever, like, go and play with other children? CLAYTON: No.
Never. I mean, I wasn’t a kid at all. OPRAH WINFREY: Do you
remember being in the closet and thinking, why? CLAYTON: I do. I’d just ask myself why. Why are you doing this to me? I wondered why I couldn’t
be a normal child and why I had to be confined
and what I did wrong. I just never got it. Never understood. Could you– did you have a
sense of– because many times when somebody has been
treated badly for so long, that becomes their normal. But did you have a
sense that other kids aren’t treated this
way, that this isn’t normal, that this is wrong? I did. Most– more so that,
I mean, I was just wondering what I did wrong. I mean, they never– never specifically I
explained it to me. They just, you
know, punished me. OPRAH WINFREY: So you would
be screaming in the closet? Mmm hmm. CLAYTON: Yeah, and, I
mean, it was just that. And what would happen when you
were screaming in the closet? The soap. You know, they’d put dish soap
in my mouth and just leave it. They wouldn’t rinse it out. They wouldn’t– I mean, so
I just had to, you know, endure that taste. And I mean, I just– I still to this day, I
can’t stand the smell of it just because of– you know. OPRAH WINFREY: And what
would they be doing– do you know– while you were
screaming in the closet? You know, anything from,
you know, being at work– from, you know,
sitting and, you know, watching TV to
showering together, you know, couple of
feet away from me. Because this was
in the bathroom? This closet was in the bathroom. CLAYTON: Yes, it
was the bathroom. So when Clayton
was first rescued, the police officer
who interviewed him recorded the conversation. Now I know those of you who
are here on our audience and in our audience
outside of the studio can remember your own
six-year-old self, and many of you can remember
raising your children or are still raising your
children who are at this age. So imagine this. OFFICER: Can you tell
me what your name is? CLAYTON: Clayton. OFFICER: OK. You told me about a
closet that you sometimes had to go to when you were bad? CLAYTON: Yeah. OFFICER: How did they keep you
from getting out of the closet when they put you in there? CLAYTON: They had
a lock on there, and I had a fence around
me, chained up on the fence. It was wrapped around
my legs, my, around– OFFICER: Under your arms? CLAYTON: Yeah. OFFICER: OK. CLAYTON: That’s how
my arm pits hurt. OFFICER: Do you ever stay in
there for a few days at a time before you ever come out? CLAYTON: Yeah. OFFICER: Without
ever coming out? CLAYTON: Yeah. OFFICER: When you have that
fence and chain around you, do you lay down in the
closet or can you lay down? CLAYTON: I can’t. It’s too– it’s too little. OFFICER: So you sometimes stay
in there all day and all night and have to sleep in there? CLAYTON: Yeah. OFFICER: Is it
hot in the closet? CLAYTON: Yeah. OFFICER: Do you sweat? CLAYTON: Yeah. OFFICER: Did you ever get hungry
while you were in the closet? CLAYTON: Real hungry and
sometimes they didn’t give me a drink when I was
thirsty in the closet, and I was very thirsty. OFFICER: Did you ever go
all day without eating? CLAYTON: Yeah. OFFICER: What about when you
have to go to the bathroom? What do you have to do? CLAYTON: Sometimes I have
to pee in a cup ’cause I have pee on my feet. OFFICER: You pee on your feet? CLAYTON: ‘Cause I pee on the
floor and I pee in my pants and it goes down my legs
and it gets on the floor and I step in the pee. OFFICER: Do you ever cry
while you’re in there or holler for anybody
to let you out? CLAYTON: I holler, and I cry. OFFICER: You cry? CLAYTON: Yeah. OFFICER: Does anybody
come when you cry? CLAYTON: They wait a long time. If I don’t shut up,
they get the dish soap. You heard those tapes for
the first time yesterday. Do you remember
that conversation? CLAYTON: Ahh. Yeah, it just seems so surreal,
like it happened, you know, yesterday. What happened to
that little boy? He never got his childhood. I mean, I was
adopted, and, I mean, I kind of got a little bit
of a childhood afterwards. But, I mean, that
chunk of my life, it just seems like from there,
you know, from when I was born all the way up to
being six, you know, there was no childhood for me. Have you seen your parents
since you were rescued? CLAYTON: Nope, I
haven’t seen them since. Don’t really want to. Yeah, because do you
think of them as parents? They’re always going to have
that title just because, you know, well, Joseph
is because, you know, he was my biological father, but
I don’t consider him my father and I have way
better parents now. So, you know, lots of people
have had horrible things happen to them, and everybody has a
choice when horrible things happen to you, I think. You can choose to step
out of that history and not be defined by your
past no matter who you are and no matter how dark the past
has been, or you can let that define your life. And you were telling me that
you have made a decision to not let it define your life. So I know you haven’t
spoken before now. Why did you want to speak today? I just wanted to let
everybody know, you know, to keep an eye out. You know, people had seen that
I had been there at one time, and then also and I just
was nowhere to be found. And they just– they didn’t
think anything of it. I want people to see, you know,
to pay attention to actually, you know, look into
things like that. I also want to show
people that, you know, you can come out of
being, you know– you can’t let it define
you to be a bad person. You have to grow from
it and learn from it and be a better person. OPRAH WINFREY: Have
you grieved it though? I mean, I can see you–
you’re being strong here and you want to be strong,
and I appreciate that. You want to be strong and not
be too emotional about it. But have you given yourself a
chance to grieve what happened to your little boy self? I went through counseling
for a little while afterwards. I didn’t feel like
it was helping. I felt like, you know, I was
handling it very well myself. I do maintain my composure,
and, you know, it hurts inside. It’s just really– I mean, I’m
a male, so it’s hard for me to show those feelings
to everybody else. But, I mean, I– Because when you
hear that little tape– I mean, you could see
people in the audience are crying when we
hear your little boy voice because
everybody remembers how little you are six years
old and how trusting you are six years old. And when you hear that, you
feel what for that little boy? CLAYTON: I feel bad. When you grow up,
you lose that trust. And I– you know, I trusted
my father, and he ruined it.

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100 thoughts on “The 6-Year-Old Chained In A Closet By His Own Family | The Oprah Winfrey Show | OWN”

  1. Jennifer Monfils says:

    Aww… So sad. How can anyone do such a thing to a small child. Parents should be locked up forever.

  2. Blue Topaz says:

    How awful πŸ˜₯
    I hope Clayton is still in touch with his sister, and I would have liked to know how she is as well.
    You've grown into a fine man Clayton, I wish you nothing but peace and happiness.
    Big Hugs πŸ’™

  3. Gok Yu says:



    God bless you Clayton. You will inherit all of what you lost and more!

  5. Miss Youtubebe says:

    God bless you Clayton. I wish you well

  6. Joe Rose says:

    How can you urinate on a child that is so twisted😭

  7. Joe T says:

    Why? Why? Why? This is horrific.

  8. Summer Sky Sky says:

    Our heart's go out to you ; We are so happy that you found peace and happiness with a loving family. πŸ™

  9. Janelle Hart says:

    πŸ˜”πŸ˜” so sad unbelievable I'm so hurt hearing this…. God continue to protect and heal him.

  10. Reina Macarena says:

    Why did I know there was a stepmother!😈

  11. Reina Macarena says:

    What happened to his bio mom?

  12. Toshia Dillard says:

    They need to hang both of them hang emβ›“

  13. Sudz Mackenzie says:

    I am not a sensitive person, but when I heard that sweet little voice describing what he had gone through in that closet to the police I started crying. I hope those β€œparents” rot in hell. Unbelievable. Who could do this to a child.

  14. Vanessa bunnie says:

    The Holy Spirit entered my body. i really felt it when he entered me. i was filled with peace, love and comfort. God shared his love with me and gave me understanding of how much he really loves all of us. God loves the worst person out there. Even a murderer who killed 50 million ppl. God said he loves that person and hes ready to forgive them if only they ask. He's ready and willing to forgive u and remember ur sins no more. It was love that none of us could express. God told me he doesnt want hell for any of us. Hes not mean at all like some of us may see him. He only warns us because he loves us so much and wants us being reconciled back to him. I felt the holy spirit grieve in me. i started weeping nonstop for hours. The Holy Spirit was weeping for all the lost souls. He told me to pray and plead with God for forgiveness, mercy, grace and more time for all the lost sinners. pray that they come into a repentance and God softens their heart. God doesn't want hell for us. He weeps when 1 soul goes to hell. The lil bit of grief he allowed me to feel was too much for me to bear. i told God i cant handle this grief. its too much for me. God took the grief away from me. He just wanted me to know how high, deep and wide his love really is. I had hate for my enemy and unforgiveness but God gave me HIS OWN love for my enemy. And now i have love for my enemy and ive been trying to help him get saved and be reconciled back to God. There's no way u can love ur enemies on ur own. U can only love ur enemies when u SHARE in Gods love πŸ˜ŠπŸ’– God is truly beautiful and he loves you so much. He doesnt want bad for u. He wants u to know and feel how much he loves you and he is for u πŸ˜ŠπŸ’– we may fail God and get mad at him, but God will never fail us and will never leave us. I know this from experience😊 Jesus loves u πŸ’–πŸ˜Š read the bible starting in the book of John 😊 The NLT version is more easier to understand than KJV πŸ˜ŠπŸ’–

  15. Vanessa bunnie says:

    u have a Father in heaven who loves u

  16. Vanessa bunnie says:

    when i was 15yrs old, i tried committing suicide. i took 20 pills. i was so close to death. my whole body swelled up. i got bumps all over my body. my throat was startin to close up and i could barely even breathe. i knew i was seconds away from death. i was gasping for air. i got scared and regretted it right away. i wished ive never done it. for the first time in my life, i cried out to God and told him i dont wanna die. i jus need help. plz help me. plz help me. i wept. within seconds, i felt this warmth, love and peace surround me. i knew for a fact it was God. within seconds, he healed my whole body. i could breathe. swelling was gone. he instantly delivered me from suicidal thoughts and depression after strugglin with it for 6yrs. psychiatrists and psychologists and takin their medicine never helped. the only thing that WORKED was when i cried out to God and asked him for help. he instantly saved me and delivered me and performed miracles on me. he gave me a new outlook on life. for once in my life i actually wanted to live and not die. that was something odd for me cuz for 6yrs i wanted to die so bad. my mom had cancer and shes the reason why i tried taking my life cuz i didnt wanna lose her. i lost her at 16yrs old and lost my dad at 17yrs old. i didnt kno Jesus until i was 24 n a half yrs old. im 25 now n my relationship with Jesus is so strong. hes helped me change into a whole diff person. ppl actually see the miraculous change in me. if it wasnt for Jesus, id be dead right now. The only healer u need is Jesus. hes our healer. Go to Jesus for healing. im living proof πŸ˜ŠπŸ’– Jesus loves uπŸ˜ŠπŸ’– he wants u to repent and forsake ur sins, be born again and place ur faith n trust in him. start havin a personal relationship with Jesus and obey him πŸ˜ŠπŸ’–

  17. katie Star says:

    Wow how horrific.

  18. Stacie Luvv says:

    I’m glad that he was so young that he barely remembers the details. Bc now he can have a somewhat decent future

  19. Gulay k says:

    Sick feral monsters! Be prepared for erternal HELL

  20. roysgirl11 says:

    My God .. love your children …what is wrong with ppl.

  21. Lisa Marie414 says:

    Wtf!!!!! They should live the rest of their lives exactly the way they tortured him!! Absolutely disgusting 😞 I wonder where he is now?

  22. Deelicious Grapes says:

    Good Lord…..

  23. Stephanie Martin says:

    Stronge kid.hes grown up lovely gb him

  24. Kelly Redman says:

    He is such an amazing kid. Sending you so much love.

  25. Arlene Valentin says:

    Poor little boy

  26. Brianna Martinez says:

    πŸ’”πŸ’” I can't even imagine! Poor Clayton! Glad he was able to get out and find a REAL FAMILY! GOD BLESS YOU πŸ™

  27. Isha Miah says:

    He is a warrior

  28. Starstruck 15 says:

    I could barely stand to watch this and this boy lived it. I don’t know why in America the punishment cannot fit the crime. I would stuff both of those β€œparents” in that same closet together and throw away the key. Now, that, I could watch!

  29. Loveli 13 says:

    Wow! He's so Strong!!! I wish you abundance of Love and Joy in your lifeπŸ’™πŸ™

  30. Latisha Lee says:


  31. Miya J says:

    Awful I have no words

  32. DOPE TIZZLE says:

    So sad. Family can be the worst enemies

  33. lynn kesh says:


  34. Breanna hernandez says:

    I am so happy to see this man alive :((((

  35. Adriana Romero says:

    This makes me so angry

  36. Queen Goddess says:

    I wish both kids was able to escape when the parents left.

  37. Ingemundsen 87 says:

    Proof there is no god

  38. Lindsey M.K. says:

    These parents are the type of people who should be put in a small closet wrapped in chains every day in prison. I don't feel that way about most– but some people are just evil

  39. Katie Sago says:

    I am so sorry this happened to you Clayton. You are so strong and didn't deserve anything that these monsters did to you. You have a heavenly father above who loves you more than words, who will make sure these acts do not go unpunished. May God have mercy on their souls even though it is unforgivable and so not deserving.

  40. Charlotte Schreffler says:

    I hope they got life in prison. They are an evil persons. May God Bless the boy.

  41. Lesser Known says:

    I cried while watching.🀧

  42. Brandi Richardson says:

    Why oh why do people hurt children when there are people who would love to have them????!!!!

  43. 1NeoSoulChild says:

    It's strange that one person would be that evil but for two people to collectively abuse a child like that. Oh God.. this hurts my heart eventhough it was so long ago

  44. MsAchampion says:


  45. MsAchampion says:

    Clayton honey?😒 I'm so sorry that these horrible people did this to you baby.😒

  46. MsAchampion says:

    The abuse is evident in his voice. The stuttering and pausing when he talks means that he went along time trying to speak but was only ignored or told to shut up 😑. I'm just seeing this myself. This little boy is now about 28 years old and is probably dating now. He's probably ashamed about the abuse that he endured at the very hands of his own parents. I wish to god that someone could have helped him sooner! I thank God for his sister who tried to help!😒

  47. Deseree Ballentine Austin Blaque says:

    Thats why the system needs too change and Have more stricker laws.And Evaluations testing thoughaly, procisely, And Pariting classes before becomming pairents .And have the dolls that are relistic babies, that have too check in.And also have too have mential evaluation, phsycological Evaluation thoughraly

  48. Andi Jayy says:

    this is heartbreaking. how can a parent do this to their child???

  49. Michelle Mckenna says:

    This makes me so sick. Those people are not animals they are demons

  50. Michelle Mckenna says:

    I wish for him Happiness, love, health and wealth

  51. Gidget Gacie says:

    He seems well adjusted for such a messed up beginning

  52. Biuma Ilunga says:

    Lock them up and throw away the key damn it!

  53. jus me says:

    Hes lucky hes alive.sweet boy.PRAYERS

  54. DanielaxAlejandra says:

    This hurts my heart. Pure evil

  55. Kavita Maggie says:

    I cannot see this 😒 God bless you Clayton my heart goes out for you baby 😒

  56. Charmingpreppylife says:

    Clayton we all love you! Praying you’re doing well now. You’re an amazing, brave young man. So proud of your resilience.

  57. Suzie Sheep says:

    By his voice I can tell he is hurting and asking why?

  58. 1 Super Star says:

    πŸ™‹πŸ€ 🌎 πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Thanks for the recap on this video OWN. May question to this young man tragic. Does anyone know if there's a book about him? If so, what's the title of it? Happy to say he looks well by this video. A lite at the end of the Darkness. Peace πŸŽ—οΈπŸŒ πŸŒ πŸŒ 

  59. Patricia Kidd Ryce says:

    I pray that his father and stepmother are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Jail forever for them. Nothing, but love to you, Clayton. God Bless You, Clayton.

  60. angelica heredia says:

    Parents still today are pushing their children like this or even worse. You hear about is in todays news.

  61. Taylor Q says:

    You treated your own baby like an animal! So sick!

  62. Michelle Brown says:

    Absolutely disgusting. My heart breaks for this boy….now man!

  63. jerricette says:

    I wonder how many years dad was in prison for this cruelty

  64. Natural K-ME says:

    😩😩😩 heartbreaking, please dont have a child if you're going to mistake them 😩😩

  65. Cara Talley says:

    Wow! How do parents like that get kids and people who are kind and deserving end up not being able to have any! Good for the sister. Proud of who that 6 year old became

  66. Lisa Kehoe says:

    An absolute inspiration. God bless this angel

  67. Holly Williamson says:

    I’m a survivor of child abuse myself and it is awful and I believe there is a special place in hell for these abusers. My first memory of my mother is her hitting me and giving me a bloody nose because the clothes in my drawers weren’t folded. I was 3 years old.

  68. Samuel Toomer says:

    Hearing his six year old self, broke my heart! πŸ˜­πŸ˜­πŸ˜­πŸ˜”πŸ˜”πŸ˜”
    I’m sorry those demons did that to him! Smh. Where’s his biological mother? The same thing should be done to those monsters, even at a greater level!

  69. Eli M says:

    My word! What is wrong with these people that do these things to a precious child? As a mom I just can't imagine!!!Clayton god bless you sweet boy…go forward and never look back….those that did that to you aren't worth your thought….

  70. LM says:

    in these stories theres always a step parent….

  71. Kylea Watts says:

    I hope those "parents" rott in hell literally scum of the earth and Clayton keep your head up ❀

  72. No1CurrMadison777 says:

    I thought this was about being gay for some reason, but still even more terrifying

  73. Upcoming Millionare says:

    Really sad.

  74. GamerGirl Marissa says:

    So handsome ❀️

  75. Fransis Sermino says:

    I wish Oprah would have continued her show

  76. Shambhavi Shukla says:

    Sadly parents like these make these innocent kids feel like they would have been luckier to be an orphan….

  77. Lacy Webb says:

    Why do her guest always repeat what she says…I don't think a lot of her stuff is done with the real people…..

  78. Lacy Webb says:

    Why did he smile after the video played??

  79. Lacy Webb says:

    I wonder if he has been able to grieve it yet

  80. Paige Marya' says:

    Such a handsome lil angel. God kept u around for a reason buddy. Sending u lots of love from my family. Hope ur doing well todayπŸ’™

  81. E a says:

    Omg poor child,thank God he got help!!!! πŸ™β€β€β€ God bless him always…..

  82. Phoenix J NYC says:

    Clayton is so handsome. How can anyone do this to there children

  83. Flame 5000 says:

    Death penalty for the parents !!!

  84. Tink Xx says:

    Poor baby I’m crying!!! If I COULD have a child I’d love them SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!! make cookies with me baby I’d say😭 goodness I hate these monsters

  85. GINLIAN Buhril says:

    The worst parents in the world. Both his father ,step mother and his step brothers or sisters should be put in prison or hand them over to Terrorists in Afghanistan. They deserve the worst for being the worst Parents.

  86. Jeff Pagan says:

    Those people must have been drug addicts

  87. Mrs. Nightmare says:

    β€œLike an animal”

    As far as I’m concerned no animal should be treated this way

  88. Evelyn Velasquez says:

    Can't believe anyone would do that specially a so called parent gas he's rotyo. Dad and stepmom

  89. iya_cruz 1977 says:

    Thanks to your sister, she was your angel and a hero… I can't fathom how this people or should i call them monster put kids in a gruesome ways… If they can't raise their kids just give them to people who can adopt and love them… πŸ˜₯πŸ˜₯πŸ˜₯

  90. Cetribea Burundibwiza says:

    Isn't this the same thing many of adopted black kids from Africa are going through here in USA, in the hands of those Wh(y)te men and women who adopted them????

  91. Sara Whiteaker says:

    I wonder what was done to his father when he was growing up… Probably even worse than that. Scary.

  92. DarlingExotica TheUniverse says:

    This guy is not bad. He is a good person, and he sort of has a Justin Beiber hair cut.

  93. Roselle Armada says:

    God bless you Clayton and the children all over the world who also experience the same.

  94. Sulagna Panda says:

    God bless you Clayton!

  95. teuila siitia says:

    We love you Clayton πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ™

  96. Snodge Kat says:

    Monsters. Demons.
    I’m so glad this lovely young man was rescued.

  97. Aphrodite Goddess says:

    Clayton, I'm so happy you survived this horrible ordeal. You seem like a very nice young man. You did nothing wrong. Wishing you endless happiness and blessings. Love and light πŸ™β™‘

  98. Joan Berry says:

    So heartbreaking!

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