Wed, Sep 30, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Oklahoma teen claims he was held in closet for years

AP , OKLAHOMA CITY

A woman was arrested after her 14-year-son told authorities he escaped from a home where he had been kept for four-and-a-half years, spending most of his time locked in a bedroom closet, police said on Monday.

A security guard at a National Guard facility in Oklahoma City called police on Friday after the teen showed up malnourished and with numerous scars and other signs of abuse, police Sergeant Gary Knight said.

“He was hungry. He was dirty. He had numerous scars on his body,” Knight said. “It was very sad.”

The boy was taken to a hospital to be examined and then turned over to the custody of the Department of Human Services (DHS), Knight said.

After police interviews, officers on Saturday arrested the boy’s mother, 37-year-old LaRhonda Marie McCall, and a friend, 38-year-old Steve Vern Hamilton, on 20 complaints each of child abuse and child neglect. Formal charges have not been filed, and both were being held on US$400,000 bond, jail records showed.

Jail officials were not sure if either had retained an attorney, and no one answered the phone at McCall’s home. A police report listed McCall as a pharmaceutical company employee and Hamilton as a cab driver.

The teen, wearing only a pair of oversized shorts held up by a belt, walked up to a security guard at the Guard facility on Friday afternoon and asked where a police station was located so he could report being abused, a police report said.

He told police that scars on his stomach and torso were from where alcohol had been poured on him and set on fire. Other scars were from being tied up, hit with an extension cord and choked, the boy told police.

“He had scars covering most of his body,” Knight said. “They were basically from head to foot.”

The teen told police he moved to the Oklahoma City area from New Jersey about four-and-a-half years ago after his mother was released from jail. Since arriving in Oklahoma, he said, he had never been to school and spent most of his time locked in a bedroom closet.

He told police the closet door was mostly blocked with a stepladder or a bed and that he managed to push the door open enough to escape and leave the house.

Knight said six other children living at the home were taken into DHS custody, but none showed signs of abuse. McCall had lived at several different addresses in the Oklahoma City area, he said.

A DHS spokeswoman said she could not discuss specific cases but generally an investigation would be conducted before any of the children are returned to the home or placed with other family members.

“There may be family members, but we do a diligent search, and we’re very careful about placing kids in a safe environment,” DHS spokeswoman Beth Scott said.

This story has been viewed 1449 times.
TOP top