Couple awaits hearing in torture case

ESCANABA – An Escanaba couple accused of torturing, abusing, and sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy are scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing in Delta County District Court next week.

Susan Marie Bardo, 46, the victim’s mother, and her boyfriend, Carl James Pellinen, 47, were arrested Friday on three felonies connected to the alleged abuse. They remain lodged in Delta County Jail, each in lieu of a $50,000 cash bond.

Officers were dispatched to the house to check on the boy’s welfare after someone told police the child hadn’t been seen for a long time, explained Det. Lt. Darin Hunter this morning.

When police arrived at the scene, they made contact with Bardo and Pellinen who resided at the home. After asking about the boy, police found him staying in a room upstairs. The room was eight-feet-by-10-feet and lined with tarps, according to Hunter.

The victim was brought to Escanaba Public Safety where he was interviewed about his living conditions. After questioning, the teen was transferred to OSF St. Francis Hospital where he underwent a medical evaluation.

“CPA (Child Protective Services) is monitoring his medical needs. They have emergency guardianship over him,” said Hunter today.

Bardo and Pellinen were arrested Friday afternoon after police interviewed them, conducted search warrants, and collected evidence at their residence on the 1500 block of North 20th Street.

The suspects were each arraigned in Delta County District Court on Monday and officially charged with first-degree child abuse, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and torture. Each felony carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Bardo and Pellinen are scheduled for a preliminary hearing in district court on April 25, according to a court official.

During a preliminary examination, witness testimony and other evidence is presented to the court to determine if a crime was committed and if the suspects were involved in the crime. If so, the judge rules the charges be forwarded to circuit court where the defendants may make pleas or go to trial.

Meanwhile, investigation continues into the child endangerment case, said Hunter.

“We still have tons of interviews to do,” the detective said this morning. “We still have follow-up to do.”