They say 48-year-old Vickie Weyer stayed in the air-conditioned shed with her 11-year-old grandson.
"Neither one of them had been staying in the house," explained Weyer's friend Denna Jean Watts. "They'd been staying in the shed. It's easier to air condition one shed instead of air conditioning the whole house."
In addition to the window air conditioner unit, the shed had two beds and a television. But that means little to St. Joseph police.
"The greater concern was that he was being kept there against his will," said St. Joseph Police Commander Janice Rothganger.
Weyer is accused of using duct tape to bind her grandson's wrists, legs and waist. She's also accused of hitting the boy with the wooden handle of a plunger. There's conflicting reports about the duct tape.
"He was kicking away, screaming and hollering and everything else in there," said family friend Fred Karnes. "Finally he come to the door and he wasn't bound or nothing."
"It made me just absolutely sick," countered neighbor Jay McGlothin. "I saw the cut marks on his wrists. He still had the glue."
The neighbor the boy called "Uncle Jay" says the reported abuse is not an isolated incident.
"She would leave for the weekend and leave him in the shed unattended," McGlothin said. "He'd say he was being babysat by a bull mastiff pit bull. She wouldn't allow him in the house when she wasn't at home."
But Karnes says it's her ex-boyfriend living next door making false accusations.
"He would influence the boy as much as he could," Karnes said. "I know that. Probably put a lot of things in his head."
If it is true, how could something like this happen in St. Joseph?
"It's a more remote area of our town," said Commander Rothganger. "It's more difficult to get to. It would be difficult for passersby to see that there's a possible problem there."
The boy was removed from the home and put into foster care.
Weyer is being held on $50,000 bond and will be in court Friday.