A West Virginia man is accused of torturing his wife for nearly a decade, keeping her as a "slave" in their home, burning her flesh with a hot iron and frying pans, and keeping her shackled while she delivered a still-born baby, according to police.
Peter Lizon, 37, will be charged Friday with malicious wounding. He is currently in jail awaiting a hearing on $300,000 bond and has yet to enter a plea.
"This appears to go beyond abuse to what I would consider torture," Jackson County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Tony Boggs told The Associated Press.
Lizon was arrested after his wife, Stephanie Lizon, 43, fled her husband on July 2 while the two went to return a roto-tiller at an equipment rental store in Parkersburg. Stephanie sought refuge in the store's back office and employees there offered to call police. She refused their help in contacting the authorities, but accepted their help in finding a battered women's shelter.
According to the criminal complaint, confirmed by police, officials at the shelter described Stephanie as "gaunt and filthy" and covered in scars and burns, including one in the shape of a clothes iron on one breast. She had "mutilated and swollen feet," according to a witness interviewed by police.
Stephanie told officials she was treated like a "slave" and made to kneel before Lizon each time she entered a room for nearly 10 years since the couple moved to West Virginia from Maryland.
She said she was shackled to a bed when she delivered a still-born baby, which Lizon later buried on the property of their farm in Leroy, W.Va.
The date of that delivery is currently unknown. The couple also has a 1-year-old son, who was born under similar circumstances, officials said.
According to police records, Stephanie's burns and wounds were photographed at the shelter. Police says they have 45 images depicting abuse. On July 5, officers executed a search warrant of the couple's home and seized items that included a Sunbeam iron.
Jackson County sheriff deputies said neither member of the couple had police records in West Virginia, but they were arrested together in Maryland in 2004, after shredding a Bush-Cheney campaign sign with a bayonet, according to reports.
"The allegations are heinous, but the real question is whether the allegations are meritorious," said Lizon's defense attorney Shawn Bayless. "The allegations are a fabrication, levied by a third party and everyone is rushing to judgment."
"A domestic battery charge is noticeably absent. The facts will bear out what did or did not happen," he said.
County prosecutors would not comment on the charges until the hearing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.