When police had to make the family notification after a 45-year-old man with an intellectual disability died in the hospital, the man’s mother, who’s accused of allowing her husband to neglect her son, was told about his death while behind bars.

On Monday, Hitchcock police offered word that Edwin Colleson, who was found unresponsive and covered in scars, sores and feces, died at HCA Houston – Mainland Hospital on Sunday afternoon, five days after he was admitted in critical condition.

When Colleson was admitted, police said he weighed 70 pounds and had multiple disfigurements, including mutilated and rotting flesh.

Colleson’s mother, Billie Jean Barnes, and Timothy Ellis, the victim’s stepfather, were arrested shortly after officers were called to their Highland Bayou RV Park home on Nov. 30. They sit behind bars at the Galveston County Jail on felony counts of injury to a disabled person. Bond was set at $250,000 each.

An autopsy will determined the man’s exact cause and manner of death.

Torture masked as holistic treatment

Police gave a glimpse into what officers saw last Wednesday through a graphically-descriptive news release. First-responding medical workers were already at the Colleson’s home, where police said he was unresponsive and needed life-saving aid. He was mentally and physically incapacitated, the police wrote.

In addition, officers saw that Colleson had severe muscular atrophy and was covered in bedsores, feces, and urine. The police department went on to describe the abuse alleged to have happened by the two people who were supposed to take care of him.

According to an investigation, the man was tethered to his room at the back of his RV home for about two weeks, evidenced by scars and scabs on his body. Police said he was restrained by Ellis, 51, and Barnes, 66.

Timothy Ray Ellis, left, and Billie Jean Barnes, right, are accused of abusing their son, a 45-year-old with an intellectual disability. (Hitchcock Police Dept.)

Officers learned that Ellis appeared to have tried treating his stepson’s ailments through holistic methods, though he doesn’t have formal training. All of this happened as Barnes allegedly allowed the treatment to continue.

The news release also states that Ellis restrained his stepson by binding his wrists together and around his neck to prevent him from acting out. Police also noticed Colleson was missing teeth and a part of his bottom lip.

And for added measure, police said Ellis cut open and removed the victim’s “cauliflower ear,” which is a blood collection that causes the ear to look swollen, before stitching the wound closed with a fishing line.

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