Father accused of carving pentagram on son's back is formally charged

Posted Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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Audio: 911 call from Richland Hills father

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A Richland Hills father accused of carving a pentagram on the back of his young son with a box cutter was formally charged Thursday with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Brent Troy Bartel, 39, remained in the North Richland Hills Jail Thursday afternoon in lieu of $500,000 bond. If convicted, Bartel faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Richland Hills police detective Tye Bell said Bartel's 6-year-old son "seems to be doing fairly well considering the circumstances."

Bell said he spoke to Bartel's wife Thursday and that "she is in a very emotional state."

She told police that she was not going to discuss the case with the media.

Bartel was arrested early Wednesday after Richland Hills police say he carved a pentagram on his son's back.

Bartel called 911 and told a dispatcher that "I shed some innocent blood." When asked why he did it, Bartel said because "it's a holy day."

Investigators also believe that Bartel got some of his son's blood and smeared the door frame of the family's home in the 3700 block of Ruth Road in Richland Hills.

When officers arrived, police found Bartel and his son -- wearing only pajama bottoms - in the home. The child was taken to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth where he was treated and released a few hours after the attack.

The boy's mother had fled to a neighbor's home where she had that neighbor call 911.

People who live in the older, middle-class neighborhood with the Bartels described the family as very private.

"They're totally incommunicative," said Eugenia Cassell, who lives a few houses down from the Bartels. "I've seen the man once and the boy once about six months ago. Once in a while I'd see the blind in the front window move. It was like a hermit lived there."

Bartel's mother, Lori Ponce, told the Star-Telegram on Wednesday that her son had no history of mental illness, but he had been under tremendous stress because of marital and financial problems.

"Brent is not a demon," she said in a telephone interview from Portland. Ore. "He is loving. He loves that boy. Something happened. Don't paint him as some crazy man. No, that's not him."

His stepfather, John Ponce, said Bartel had been studying the Bible the past couple of years.

"He's been trying to, so to speak, find himself as to what he believes as far as a spirit center, faith center, and it's been a hard road for him," said John Ponce.

This story includes information from Star-Telgram archives.

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763

Twitter: @mingoramirezjr

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