BARTLESVILLE child abuse case investigated

Saturday, May 12th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Five adults face felony charges related to the abuse of a 13-year-old boy. Bartlesville Police say there could be even more arrests.

KOTV's Tami Marler says on Thursday morning, Bartlesville Police were called to a home in east Bartlesville on a report of child abuse. They found a 13-year-old, mentally challenged boy with a disturbing story. Court documents show his own mother watched as her friends tied him to a tree and pelted him with tennis and basketballs. Then, Bartlesville Police say Robert Richter "hog-tied" the boy to the bumper of his truck, and lifted him off the ground while he cried out for help. The story may have sounded unbelievable, but police found rope burns on the boy, and reports indicate some of the abuse was videotaped. That tape is now in evidence.

When police questioned 32-year-old Robert Richter, he admitted to tying the boy to the tree, but said he and 22-year-old Cy Zezza were playing catch with him. Both men were arrested for child abuse. According to police, Nina Vasquez and Rebecca Zezza-Richter were arrested on felony complaints related to child abuse. The boy's mother, 29-year-old Angel Smittle, was arrested for permitting the abuse.

All five of the adults face felony charges in Washington County District Court. Bartlesville Police say the 13-year-old boy is living with relatives. They're asking anyone with information about this crime to call them at 918-338-4015.