Boy captive in bedroom up to 2 years, police say
Published Friday, May 30, 2014 12:36PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 30, 2014 7:05PM EDT
Police in London, Ont. are investigating a disturbing case involving a 10-year-old boy who they allege was held captive in a locked bedroom in his aunt and uncle’s home for as long as two years.
Police say the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex received an anonymous tip from the public to check on the welfare of a child at a local home and asked for police help to enter the house.
When they arrived at the home, it appeared to be unoccupied, police say. The homeowners were called to the scene and opened the front door, and police found the boy inside the locked master bedroom.
Police said they have reason to believe the boy had been there between 18 and 24 months.
The boy was taken to hospital Thursday, where he was diagnosed with malnutrition. He has since been released from hospital and has been placed in a foster home.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Det. Inspec. Kevin Heslop said the boy was living in the house with his aunt and uncle, who were his legal guardians, and the couple’s biological child, a nine-year-old girl, was also apprehended and is currently living in a separate foster home.
The aunt and uncle have been charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life, and forcible confinement. Their names are not being released to protect the identity of the child.
Police say the boy was held in the home’s master bedroom. While it had ensuite access to a toilet and shower, police noted that “the room, and the entire house, was in squalid condition.”
“There was a lot of garbage in the house, there was a lot of packaging from fast food outlets. In the bedroom specifically, there was feces, urine – the bed was soaked in urine, as was the child’s pajamas when the child was found,” Heslop told reporters.
The boy appeared underweight and pale, and was “confused and upset” when authorities arrived, Heslop said. “But he’s doing much better now.”
Investigators say that at the house, the child was fed twice a day, typically once in the morning and once at night. “Fast food was brought to him and left with him to eat,” Heslop said.
Police said to their knowledge, the child has never attended school.
Heslop said they believe that the child came to Canada and moved into the house in 2010. He said the boy’s biological parents are not from Canada. Police are currently working to identify them and reach out to them.
The child may have been out of the house for a “brief period” in 2013, Heslop also said.
Jane Fitzgerald, executive director of Children’s Aid Society for London and Middlesex told the news conference that they are “now getting to know the boy,” and that authorities are “happy to find out from him some of the things he wants to do right away,” such as eat regular food.
“He said the one thing he really wants is to go to school,” Fitzgerald said. “So I think that’s a good sign that he wants to re-enter the world.”
Police say there is no evidence yet that the girl, who did attend school, was ever locked in a room in the house. Heslop said investigators were speaking with her, but don’t know “how much information she had about what was going on.”
“I don’t believe that they have seen each other,” Heslop said of the cousins.
Heslop said while London police have not had prior dealings with the occupants of the house, or anyone at that location, the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex had “brief contact” with the family “involving another, older child who is no longer in the home, at another location in 2007.”
Fitzgerald said it was her understanding that the person in question, now an adult, is related to one of the adults now involved in the confinement case.
Heslop said the investigation is ongoing, and they are still interviewing people, including neighbours, and searching the house.
Fitzgerald said it was a “joyful day” because “we found a child and they’re alive, and they’re safe.”