When the 9-year-old and 11-year-old victims were found in Edlington, North England, they were so covered in mud and blood that neighbors said they could not see their skin. The 9-year-old was found first, dazed and wandering, asking for help.
He wanted help to find his friend. "He can't see," he whispered. His 11-year-old friend was found unconscious and face-down in a ravine, clad only in boxer shorts and socks. Both the boys had been beaten with bricks, slashed "head-to-toe" with knives, burned with cigarettes, and pushed into the ground. Both remain in the hospital.
Their alleged attackers? Two boys, 10 years old, and 11 years old, who have been charged by the South Yorkshire Police with attempted murder and robbery. It is alleged that the victims' cell phones, sneakers, and about 3 pounds in cash were stolen in the attack.
The two boys charged with the crime allegedly slashed the victims with a knife "from head to toe," burned them with cigarettes and beat them with bricks before throwing one of them down a ravine near Doncaster, in North England, according to police.
The brothers had been put into foster care by Doncaster Council, whose children's services department was recently described as "chaotic and dangerous" following the deaths of seven vulnerable youngsters.
Due to the nature of the case, and the ages of both the victims and the attackers, official details are scarce. It was unclear whether the victims and the attackers knew each other, but it appeared that the boys were fishing on the outskirts of the town when they were confronted by the two attackers.
There was no doubt, however, about the brutality of the attack. Lisa Meehan's daughter found the nine-year old victim. "I felt sick to my stomach," she told the BBC. "You couldn't see his face, he was cut from head to toe with a gash across his head. They had slashed his arms and face and he had no trainers or socks on. His face was mashed."
Jean Wright's son, Ian, found the 11-year old and stayed with him until the police arrived. "My husband saw [the younger boy] walking past the outside of our house and he was covered in what my husband thought was red paint," she told the BBC. "When he went out he saw it was blood."
The boys accused of the attack were seen locally as trouble and troubled. They were two of seven children and stepchildren, allegedly expelled from school, and accused by neighbors as being noisy and aggressive. After hearing about the attacks, the mother of a local choir boy spoke up, claiming that these same boys were responsible for an equally vicious attack on her son, Callam Flett.
"He was shaking with fear and was totally terrified," she told the Daily Mail. "He was black and blue, his lip was swollen and he had dreadful bruising on his cheek and on his legs and chest."
The two boys' 36-year-old single mother apparently handed them over to the Doncaster City Council three weeks ago, claiming that she could not care for them anymore. After the incident, she detached herself from responsibility. She allegedly yelled at a journalist from the Sun, through her door. "It's got nowt to do with me -- they weren't even in my care."