News 12 at 11, September 6, 2007
AIKEN, S.C.- An Aiken County mother and her husband are out on bond, charged with a degree of child abuse the Aiken County Sheriff's Office has never seen before.
Sheriff Michael Hunt calls it the most shocking case of child abuse he's ever seen in his career.
Two boys, ages 12 and 14, identify a handheld cattle prod as one form of abuse they suffered at the hands of their mother, Dana Smith, and her husband Kip Smith.
The 14-year-old says he and his brother were tortured repeatedly by both; often held down by Kip and then shocked over and over by Dana.
The cattle prod puts out 4, 500 volts, compare that to the electrical outlet in your home, which puts out only 120 volts.
The Sheriff's Office says the cattle prod came from an Aiken Tractor Supply store off of Whiskey Road. Employees there often saw Dana Smith come in with her children, and say she even joked about using the cattle prod as punishment.
Assistant Manager Bradley Beckham says he still can't believe it's true. "It's enough of a punch that it would move a three thousand pound animal. It would hurt a child severely."
The Sheriff's Office says the abuse allegedly happened at the family's former New Bridge Road home.
Neighbors, like Laura Nord, say they knew something was wrong. "My husband and I called the Sheriff several times because we heard gunfire really late at night or early morning, like 3 am. There was constantly screaming over there."
News 12 spoke with several family members off camera, including Dana Smith's sister Patricia by phone. She says Dana had abused the children since the 14-year-old was born, but had only recently switched to the cattle prod because it didn't leave a mark.
There are a total of three children involved. Dana Smith also has a 9-year-old son, but the Sheriff's Office says they don't believe the cattle prod was used on him. All three boys are safe, staying with relatives.
Dana Smith and Kip Smith are free on bond. Both are charged with two counts of unlawful neglect by a legal custodian. Kip Smith faces an additional charge of cruelty to children for allegedly beating the 14-year-old with a cane in March.