As was first reported Monday, 37-year-old Leslie Tiesler, of Calvary Church Road, Cameron, is charged with three counts of child abuse. Her bond was set at $1 million.
Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins said his deputies and the Department of Social Services began looking into the case after getting a report of abuse in May.
Rollins said five children lived with Tiesler. Four were adopted and one is Tiesler's biological child.
According to the arrest warrants, three adopted boys were locked in the same bedroom and were not allowed to sleep in bed. A baby monitor was placed in the room for communication and they were only to ask to use the restroom.
Sometimes, they were locked in a 37-inch Stanley tool box for punishment. A straw or tube was their only air supply.
The warrants say a tape recorder was placed on top of the box, and if they made any noise at all, they would be punished and/or get no food.
Rollins said the three children complained they were also starved and beaten with a wooden spoon. The two other children allegedly participated in the cruel treatment of the three.
All five children were removed from the home by DSS officials and placed in foster care shortly after the complaint was filed. Rollins said the three alleged victims have gained significant weight since their removal.
Commenting on why he set Tiesler's bond at $1 million, Harnett County Magistrate Jerry Latta said "...horrible pictures of children. If it were me, I'd run like a rabbit. I have more respect for a cockroach."
The alleged abuse took place over a period of 14 months. Tiesler's ex-husband, Brad Thill, was working as a private defense contractor in Kabul, Afghanistan at the time.
Thill was also arrested and charged of misdemeanor child abuse for allegedly not reporting what occurred.
Thill was overseas for two and a half years and didn't see the children until April 26, 2012.
"I started asking all five kids and my ex-wife what is going on, for the kids to be looking like this. My ex-wife stated to me that one of the children was forcing himself to vomit his food and they would not sleep for days on end," said Thill on Tuesday.
"He acknowledges that he did not do anything to get his children into that condition and that he was starting to take steps to help them when DSS in Harnett County got involved," said Jason Wunsch, Thill's attorney Monday.
Thill's bond was set at $5,000 bond.