14-Year-Old Dies at Desert Boot Camp

P H O E N I X, July 8, 2001 -- It was supposed to be one of those "tough love" boot camps to straighten out wayward kids, incorporating a few weeks of military discipline and hard living in the desert.

But last Sunday, 14-year-old Tony Haynes died, and then, the stories came out about what this camp was really like.

"These bruises on my arm are from Sgt. Fontenot punching me, and these on my legs are from him kicking me," said camper Angel Campbell, who was bruised by beatings that she said she suffered from at the camp.

"They were bringing kids over there and making them lay on their backs and pouring mud down their throats and stomping on their chests with the heel of their boot," said another camper Justin Boe, who also suffered from a similar treatment.

The camp was run by an organization called the Buffalo Soldiers Re-Enactors Association, and its self-appointed Colonel, Charles Long II. Long did not return any of ABCNEWS' phone calls in time for this report, but he did comment to reporteters after Tony Haynes' death.

"We aren't doing anything out there that's not approved by the kids and the parents," Long said.

Not so, according to Haynes' parents, who were shocked to learn their son vomited mud shortly before he died.

"No parent would subject their child to nothing like that," Gittis Haynes Jr. said.

Just an Apple for Breakfast

Campers said they lived on an apple for breakfast, a carrot for lunch, and a small bowl of beans for dinner.

It was 120 degrees Farenheight here in the desert that day. Some other campers said they were not being given enough water. Tony Haynes, they said, began to ahllucinate, and eventually collapsed.

Some of these boot camps are run by the states, but many are private and unregulated. Even at their best, the effectiveness of such behavioral boot camps has been called to question in recent years.

"I wish that just cracking down hard on kids was the solution, but there is in fact no research, there is no evidence that boot camps work on kids," said Michael Faenza, president of the National Mental Health Association.

R.J. Corriere was a part time supervisor at the camp until he learned of the beatings and quit, taking his stepson Justin with him only hours before Tony Haynes died.

"This boy was neglected, abused and killed," Corriere said.

Investigators have yet to reveal the exact cause of Tony Haynes' death, but it is being treated as a possible crime.

ABCNEWS' Brian Rooney in Phoenix contributed to this report

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