Two foster parents in North Carolina, including a Department of Social Services supervisor, were arrested Friday after their 11-year-old foster son was found handcuffed to their porch in freezing temperatures with a dead chicken hung from his neck.
Union County authorities said the child was found by an animal control deputy after neighbors complained about a pig running lose outside the house. He was cuffed by his ankle and shivering.
Dorian Lee Harper and his wife Wanda Sue Larson, both 57, were arrested and charged with intentional child abuse, inflicting serious injury, false imprisonment, and animal cruelty.
“It’s shocking to see how they lived,” Sheriff Eddie Cathey told USA Today. “The conditions were horrible. Trash, filth, animals and animal waste inside and outside the home. You could barely breath inside that house.”
Four other adopted children, ages eight to 14, were removed from the home and taken into the custody of social services.
Larson, who is a supervisor for the county's Department of Social Services, faces additional charges for failing to discharge her duty as a public official.
The Sheriff’s office statement says Larson was “complicit” in the boy’s abuse.
When the animal control deputy questioned Harper about the handcuffed boy, another child opened a door, letting lose a pack of large dogs who chased the deputy away.
The deputy called for backup officers, who witnessed Harper removing the dead chicken from the boy’s neck and unshackling his leg.
“Makes you wonder what our county officials do in their spare time,” neighbor Gene Wallace told WCNC.
Wallace also described the family as reclusive and said they kept a variety of animals.
“Pigs, donkeys, llamas ... the whole gamut ... If we complain about their animals being on our property they get mad or they won't come to the door when you go over there.”
Harper’s bond has been set at $500,000, with Larson’s set at $525,000. They are scheduled to appear in court Monday.