Barber Blows Whistle On Hair Burning Punishment
Police were tipped off in Abingdon, Maryland by a barber and the barber's salon owner who were concerned by obvious burns on the head of a boy who visited the hair care establishment.
The boy's father, Steven Helgason, 44, was arrested in his home after he allegedly used a homemade blow torch out of a can of Axe deodorant to burn his son's hair as punishment for misbehaving.
The police allege the father of 8 children used the blow torch to burn his children's hair as punishment for misbehaving.
One of Helgason's sons told police he was stripped and hung upside down before the blow torch was applied to his head by his father. The son said that his father would spray a can of deodorant and lighting the liquid so that a flame would erupt from the canister.
The oldest boy also told police he would sometime use the blow torch on his younger siblings after being ordered to by their father.
Other children in the family said they had been burned 'hundreds of times' by their father's home made blow torch. In the investigation that followed three of Helgason's eight children, aged from six to 13, told police they had been injured by the blow torch.
Helgason, has prior convictions for assault and child abuse. Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly said investigators are still trying to ascertain why Helgason allegedly burned his children.
'It's very strange. It's not clear, but it does not appear this was an issue of discipline or excess discipline or anything like that,' said Cassilly, 'These allegations are very unusual, and that's one of the main reasons we asked for no bond.'
Officials said Helgason was divorced by his wife in 2006 following an domestic violence incident but he retained custody of seven of their children.
Cassilly said 'Any child abuse case is troubling, but given the number of children that were involved here, this is certainly something that's very upsetting, because hopefully the mother will get re-engaged in some of this.' He continued 'They were separated so what knowledge she had isn't clear and I don't think we've finished our investigation to that point yet.'Helgason was booked into jail and charged with four counts of second-degree child abuse. He is currently being held without bail.