A nine-year-old boy was found by police locked with a padlock in a kennel outside an American home.
When law enforcement arrived at the Lexington, North Carolina property, the boy reportedly told them he had been in the kennel since April.
He had a small amount of food in his cage, some clothes, but no blankets – and it was -2 ° C (35.6 ° F).
Sheriff’s agents broke into the kennel and the baby was taken to hospital in Winston-Salem. He was evaluated and released on the same day.
The child’s father, Jonathan Starr, his stepmother Sarah Starr and his aunt Shelley Barnes – who owns the property – were all arrested and charged with child abuse and false imprisonment.
Ms. Barnes is also accused of “using a home for controlled substances”.
All three are held in Davidson County Jail on $ 100,000 bail.
Local Sheriff Richie Simmons said, “I’ve been in law enforcement for 36 years, this is the first time I’ve seen something that significant.”
Simmons said an anonymous person called the emergency health services just before 7am on October 19 and told him about the boy. When they found him, he said he had been there all night.
The police found two other children on the spot – inside the house – and two others who were attending primary school.
Now they are all entrusted to social services.
A spokesperson for the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department said at a news conference: “We believe this has been going on for some time.”
Sheriff Simmons added, “This is why we are in law enforcement. We fight battles for people who can’t fight battles.”