LANCASTER – The parents of a 3-year-old boy were arrested Wednesday after concerned residents spotted the child walking alone in the middle of the street at least three blocks away from his home, authorities said.
A 48-year-old man and a 47-year-old woman were taken into police custody, but their names are being withheld pending further investigation, according to Deputy Joshua Stamsek of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station.
The incident was reported just after 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 13, and deputies responded to the 43800 block of Countryside Drive in Lancaster where residents said they saw the child, Stamsek said.
The residents who reported the incident said they were driving through their neighborhood when they spotted the child walking in the road wearing shoes that were too big for him.
“We pulled up… got him over to the sidewalk and tried to ask him his name, but he seemed kind of incoherent,” said a man, who did not want to be identified. “I drove the neighborhood looking to see if there was a house that might be open and found a house on the next street over with the garage open but no one answering the door.”
When deputies arrived on scene, they were able to locate the child, and concerned residents directed them to the child’s home, Stamsek said.
“Upon arriving to the child’s residence, deputies discovered a bedroom in the residence locked from the outside with a chain and lock,” Stamsek stated. “Deputies opened the locked bedroom and found a 10-year-old female.”
Stamsek said the girl had no access to a restroom or food while locked in the bedroom, and deputies believed she was possibly put in the locked room as punishment.
“There were no other residents or parents home at the time deputies arrived at the residence,” Stamsek stated. “Deputies were able to locate the parents and detained them per their investigation.”
Stamsek said the Department of Children and Family Services was notified about the incident and the “horrible condition of the residence.”
He said DCFS placed the 3-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl into protective custody. Two siblings who were at school during the incident – a 9-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy – were also taken into protective custody, Stamsek said.
The parents were booked on suspicion of child endangerment, child neglect and false imprisonment, sheriff’s officials said.
No further information was available Wednesday evening.
Editor’s note (correction): The woman arrested in connection with this incident is actually 52 years old, according to LASD inmate records.
Updated 5/29/15 [Editor’s note]: The young boy found wandering the street is actually 4 years old, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Read an update to this story here.