It can be fun to play the occasional prank on your children for your own amusement, but sometimes you can take a joke too far. This is the lesson that Mike and Heather Martin learned on Monday when they lost custody of two of Mike’s children for playing cruel tricks on them and uploading the videos to YouTube.
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Mike and Heather Martin from Baltimore, MD, used to play awful pranks on Mike’s two youngest children, Cody, nine, and Emma, 12, and upload the videos to their extremely popular YouTube channel, DaddyOFive, which has 760,000 subscribers. That all came to an end, however, when Rose Hall, the children’s biological mother, and her lawyer posted a video yesterday stating that the two were back with her in emergency custody and undergoing “deprograming” from years of torment.
“They’re doing good,” Hall said in the video. “They’re getting back to their playful selves.” Hall’s lawyer, Tim Conlon of the Custody Place, was a little more straight to the point in his description of the mental state of the two youngsters, adding “the kids are in a deprogramming sort of mode in the moment.” The move came after an online petition that drew close to 19,000 signatures prompted CPS to investigate the family.
The YouTube clips often showed Martin tormenting his youngest son, Cody, in a variety of ways, all captured on video by an older brother. Situations uploaded to DaddyOFive included convincing Cody he had been adopted out to another family, smashing his X-box with a hammer and accusing him of spraying his room with ink and then yelling and swearing at him. In one video, the father is seen pushing Cody, resulting in the boy bloodying his nose, however, Martin claims the blood was fake.
The videos often end with Cody crying, humiliated and throwing objects out of sheer frustration, but things came to a head when the nine-year-old threatened to kill himself after yet again falling victim to his father’s hijinks. “I hate my life, just kill me,” the toddler screamed. According to New York Magazine, the couple made between $200,000 – $350,000 annually from their YouTube channel.
Rose Hall claims she initially lost custody of the two children illegally when Mike and Heather forged her signature on custody documents back in 2014, but now has them back and she and her lawyer wanted to thank the YouTube community for voicing their outrage. Mike and Heather Martin, also posted their final video on April 22, an apology for their behavior: