Couple says they kept son locked in garage to protect other children
By Kris Betts, Tina Shively and Eleanor Beck
DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas -- The couple accused of kidnapping their own adopted son said they had to keep him locked up to protect their other children and community.
The couple is out on bond after it was lowered to $70,000 on Friday.
Jenifer Thyssen, 40, and her husband, 39-year-old Dane 'Andy' Thyssen, are accused of locking up their 22-year-old adopted son, Koystya Thyssen, in a garage apartment by himself for at least four years.
Attorneys representing the couple say they kept their son locked up because he had sexually assaulted children, including a relative, in the past.
Attorney Rip Collins said, "He [Koystya] has a history of sexually abusing children, not only in other countries, but in this neighborhood, in this community. And their concern was, they had him restrained because of their concern that other people would be harmed."
Friends say the couple adopted Koystya from Kazakhstan in 2004, when he was 11 years old.
KVUE attempted to confirm these allegations of sexual assault with multiple law enforcement agencies Friday, but was unable to find records showing the 22-year-old had sexually assaulted children.
Records show he is a not a registered sex offender, and neither Hays or Travis County reported any previous arrests.
However, if Koystya assaulted children when he was still a minor, as family friends and lawyers contend, a Child Protective Services representative says those records would remained sealed into his adulthood.
Criminal District Attorney Sherri Tibbe told KVUE by email Friday that, while the investigation is still early, her office had not seen evidence supporting the sexual assault allegations.
More than fifty supporters who attended Friday's bond hearing say Koystya's behavior was no secret, and they're sticking by the Thyssen family.
Family friend David Drell, who was among the friends in the gallery, described the couple as loving parents.
"They're the most beautiful human beings you ever want to meet," said Drell. "I hope to be like them and as good of parents as they are."
He denied the Thyssens kept Koystya in the garage twenty four hours a day.
Several people told KVUE Koystya was only held in the apartment when his parents weren't available to supervise him. They say they had seen the son with his father frequently, at social events and running errands around town.
Though the judge initially adjourned without lowering the $350,000 bond, he later reduced the amount Friday to $70,000 a piece.
Attorney Perry Minton asked the father of six if it was true that he and his wife believed that Koystya "raped small children multiple times."
The state objected, saying it wasn't the right time to bring up this issue, that it was only a bond hearing and the state didn't have time to prepare for cross-examining.
Defense attorneys also said the parents tried to get Koystya help when he was a minor, even putting him in the custody of Child Protective Services for three and a half years.
However, Attorney Perry Minton says Jenifer Thyssen was concerned about Koystya's continued access to small children and decided it was safer to supervise him at home.
According to the arrest affidavit, the investigation started when a Hays County detective was investigating a burglary next door. Koystya was arrested after admitting he went through the garage and inside the house, stealing women's panties.
When detectives interviewed him, Koystya told them he used a screwdriver to break out of the garage apartment next door where he was kept locked inside.
Defense attorneys say since he returned home after the alleged break-in, this proves he was not mistreated.
The detective received permission to search the apartment and found a toilet, sink, refrigerator and microwave. The arrest affidavit states all the windows were boarded up, and the door to the apartment was locked from the outside.
The paperwork states the Thyssens they let Koystya out once a week to take a shower before seeing a counselor, and he was checked on once a day and gave him a box of food once a week, allegations that the defense disputes.
Koystya also told detectives he believes it's wrong how he was treated, but he said he has no other family or friends in the United States.