DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — A North Carolina boy found in a padlocked dog kennel told deputies he had been living there since April and that he didn’t have a room in the house where his father and stepmother were living, according to search warrants.
Warrants also revealed that people in the area knew about his living conditions during that time.
Davidson County deputies responded on Oct. 19 to a home in Lexington after getting reports about a 9-year-old boy locked in a dog kennel. The boy was found and taken to the hospital.
The child’s father, stepmother and the stepmother’s aunt, who owns the property, have been arrested and charged with felony child abuse.
Search warrants show that an anonymous person called 911 just before 7 a.m. on Oct. 19 and told them about the boy. She said her husband had taken him food “in the past.”
The child was found in a t-shirt and jeans with no shoes after a night of below-freezing temperatures. Deputies, who saw frost on the ground when they arrived, broke into the padlocked kennel to get to the boy.
According to the warrant, the child said he had been living outside since April. He also told a lieutenant that he did not have a room in the house “because he lived outside.”
The deputies saw a woman at the back door of the home holding a small child. She walked out of sight and turned the lights off, according to warrants. The deputies forced entry into the home, where they detained Sarah Starr, the boy’s stepmother. She told deputies she did not know the combination to the lock on the kennel and that only her aunt, Shelley Barnes, knew it.
Starr was holding an 8-month-old baby, and a 4-year-old child was found under Starr’s bed. They were taken out of the home by EMS.
Starr told deputies that she knew the boy was being held in the dog kennel, according to the warrant, and allegedly told a detective that she and her husband were “upset about it.”
Starr told them she had two other children, a 7- and an 8-year-old, both of whom were at school.
A neighbor came to the house on a four-wheeler and told deputies that the child had been in the kennel at about 10:30 the night before. The man said he had brought the child a coat and snacks, according to warrants.
All five of the children were taken into custody by the Department of Social Services and were in good health, the sheriff’s office said during a news conference.
Sarah and Jonathan Starr have been charged with felony child abuse inflicting serious physical injury, misdemeanor child abuse and false imprisonment.
Barnes has been charged with felony child abuse inflicting serious physical injury, misdemeanor child abuse, false imprisonment and possession of a firearm by a felon. The warrants show Barnes was convicted of identity theft in 2004.