SEDALIA, MO (WDAF/CNN) - A Missouri man is accused of starving and beating his girlfriend's kids.
Police are also alleging the man forced the children to eat shoes.
They said two girls and a boy, ages 12, 9, and 8, endured horrific abuse for four years.
Court records say James Hays Jr. lived with his girlfriend, his three kids and her three kids.
Last month the aunt of the 12, 9, and 8-year-old took the kids to a nearby hospital after noticing they had "large bruises."
Investigators interviewed all three kids, and court records detail the brutal abuse they endured.
One child had visible bruising on her legs.
A neighbor who didn't want to be identified said there were visible footprints on the girl's shin, and badly bruised ribs.
The children told police Hays, known as Jimmy, would often “yell at them, kick them and spank them” for trying to get something to eat.
On one occasion, a child said Hays forced her to "eat hot peppers" and poured "water over her head" so that she could barely breathe.
They also say they were often shoved in a bathroom and locked in with bars that Hays would slam down.
One child reported that their mom would try to sneak food to them while locked in the bathroom.
Court records say that more than once the kids were made to take several shoelaces out of shoes, and Hays would make them eat parts of the shoe.
Whoever ate "most of a shoe" would get to stop and "eat real breakfast."
Hays also often forced the kids to do jumping jacks, squats, and push-ups.
And if he wasn't satisfied, the kids said he'd kick, spank, and and swat them with a belt with "little pointy metal things on it."
Court records say hays would also use a spatula and hanger to beat them.
The abuse often lead to bruises and bleeding.
Police searched the house where he lived on Monday and found many of the conditions the kids described, including metal brackets and bars near the doors.
Hays was arrested and now faces multiple child abuse charges.
He is being held on a $1 million bond.
The children are staying with extended family members.
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