When Joseph Myhre wanted to discipline his children, he didn’t send them to their room or take away their video games, like other parents might do.
Instead, he beat them with PVC pipes and strangled them until they passed out, police said. He smashed their fingers between pliers, pulled the hair out of their heads, and stomped on their stomachs, ignoring their cries of pain and pleas for mercy, police said.
He even made them wear electric dog collars, shocking them until the electrodes burned their skin, according to court records.
The alleged abuse, which the children said they endured for years, has landed Myhre, 44, of Collegeville in Montgomery County, behind bars.
Lower Providence police arrested Myhre on Friday on charges of aggravated assault, strangulation, unlawful restraint, endangering the welfare of children, possessing an instrument of crime, simple assault, and harassment. He is being held on $1 million bail at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility, pending a preliminary hearing set for April 19.
Police began investigating on March 15 after an incident involving Myhre’s wife. In that case, police said Myhre pinned the woman to the floor and repeatedly punched her in the head, according to an affidavit. After he fell asleep, she drove herself to the Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, where doctors discovered she had a fractured skull, according to the affidavit.
Their children, an 11-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy, later told investigators that their father had beaten them hundreds of times and frequently choked them into unconsciousness since they were about 5 years old, according to court records.
“Sometimes he just would use his foot, his knee, like in kick-boxing,” the boy told police. “He would hold my hands and kick me right in the stomach with his foot. He would have a shoe on, and that made it worse.”
The children, who were homeschooled, told investigators their father often made them get into ice baths or use ice packs after the violence to reduce swelling.
The wife recorded one alleged incident of abuse that lasted nearly an hour. In that recording, a screaming child begs: “It hurts so much! Please stop!” A calm male voice responds: “You can’t figure out that you are the problem right now.”
Myhre gave police a written admission that he grabbed his children on their necks and arms and hit them with sticks, according to the affidavit. He “explains that he did these things, but never (did) them to hurt his children,” the affidavit said. He further admitted he owned an electric dog collar, even though he didn’t have a dog, police said.
Police later discovered the children’s beds were “closed-off wooden boxes … with a small opening and vents to let in air,” according to the affidavit.