GALVESTON, Texas — A nine-year-old boy is in foster care after police found evidence that he may have been confined to a box by his parents, among other abuses.
Two weeks ago, the boy disappeared from his house. Police and neighbors searched for three hours before locating him.
"I saw a police officer come by here and I said, 'Is there anything wrong?" said Marcy Ayala, a neighbor. "He said, 'We’re looking for a little boy.'"
"We saw like three police cars there and I said, 'Something is wrong,'" said Harold Rowland, another neighbor.
The boy told police that he had run away from home, and the reasons he gave compelled investigators to dig deeper.
Galveston police declined to comment, but a Child Protective Services spokesperson said the boy complained that he was confined to a plywood box at home.
The Galveston Daily News reports that police searched the boy’s house for evidence of child pornography, and accused the boy’s father of using a cell phone to take a naked picture of his son, according to an affidavit filed by CPS.
In July, the boy told a child advocate his father and stepmother used a marker to write words such as "liar" and "thief" on his arm while he was naked in the room, the Daily News reported. Police also seized shackles with handcuff keys, drug paraphernalia, cell phones, and computer equipment.
"No kid deserves to be treated like that — period," said Nina Fernandez, another neighbor.
"A child shouldn’t have to go through nothing like that," Rowland said. "There’s not a child in the world that should have to go through that."
Rowland said he and his girlfriend sensed trouble weeks ago when she found the boy sitting on a curb behind a parked pickup truck.
"My girl (walked) over there and asked him is he okay, and he said, 'Yeah, I’m okay,'" Rowland said. "But the way he was sitting there — tucked up with his arms around his legs, sitting on the ground — you could just tell (something was wrong)."
Since the incident, the boy has been placed in foster care and a custody hearing will take place.