Children Are Taken from Maryland Couple After Elaborate ‘Prank’ Videos Posted on YouTube

A boy and a girl were taken to their biological mother for temporary custody after Michael and Heather Martin verbally berated the kids in videos

Maryland couple

A couple from Maryland who played “pranks” on their children and posted the videos on YouTube might end up losing two of their kids after their biological mother served a court order for temporary custody.

According to the New York Times, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office served the court order on Friday and took two children from their father, Michael, and step-mom, Heather Martin, and are placing them in the custody of their biological mother, Rose Hall. A hearing for permanent custody will take place within the next week.

The publication reported that the videos were posted on the DaddyOFive account that has more than 760,000 subscribers. In the videos, the couple verbally berated the five children, accused them of making messes they hadn’t made and brought them to tears, mostly by performing stunts like destroying an Xbox game system. The videos have since been deleted from the account, although other YouTube users saved the footage.

Hall said in a video posted on Monday that it was “very heartbreaking and disturbing to see my kids being abused.” According to her, she had not seen her daughter since 2015 and her son since 2014 and that she’s had a difficult custody battle with her former boyfriend, Michael Martin.

The Martins have said in interviews that the children enjoyed the attention, and that the pranks were just an act. The couple even told “Good Morning America” that money received from videos was enough to start a college fund.

However, in April, news coverage about them began to increase and many YouTube figures denounced the videos, which prompted a video apology on April 22 in which the couple stated their regrets.

“This has been the absolute worst week of our life, and we realized that we have made some terrible parenting decisions,” Heather Martin, the stepmother of the two children, said.

The Fallston Group, a crisis communications firm, is working with the family and has posted on their website that the parents have shown “true remorse” and have taken full responsibility for their actions.

“They were caught up in their own characters and popularity — they were blinded by YouTube fame and, again, upon reflection, made some very poor decisions,” the company said in a blog post.

“I am working with Michael and Heather Martin,” the couple’s lawyer, Baltimore-based Laurie Wasserman, told TheWrap. “It would be highly inappropriate for me to discuss the details of this very sensitive matter, or any associated proceedings, publicly. All information will be presented to the Court at the appropriate time.” The Frederick Country Sheriff’s Office was not reachable for comment.