By Jim Melwert

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — A 27-year-old Montgomery County man is in custody in connection with what law enforcement officials call one of the “most horrific acts of child abuse” they’ve seen “in a really long time.”

Investigators say Nicholas Kernechel was watching his girlfriend’s four-year-old autistic son in the apartment they shared on Main Street in East Greenville. It appears he the boy wasn’t doing exactly what Kernechel was asking, so Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman says, he ripped out three of the boy’s teeth.

“The teeth were recovered, they were intact from the root to the edge of the tooth,” says Ferman. “They were bloodied. And they have striations on them that would indicate that a tool of some sort was used to remove them from the child’s mouth.”

The boy’s mother was out of the apartment from about 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., she says she checked on the boy when she got home, but didn’t notice the swelling, bruising and missing teeth, until the following morning. She went to police, who say they found blood splatter on the wall next to the bed, on the sheets and pillow case as well as on the floor.

Kernechel is facing multiple counts of aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child.