A hungry 7-year-old boy in Franklin, Ohio, tried to sell his stuffed animal to get money for food. According to WLWT5, police officer Steve Dunham discovered the child in front a CVS store on Sunday, August 7.
“It broke my heart,” Dunham told WLWT. “He told me he was trying to sell his stuffed animal to get money for food because he hadn’t eaten in several days.”
That’s when Dunham suggested they head over to a nearby Subway to get something to eat. “We said a little a prayer and ate dinner together.” Afterward, they headed to the Franklin Police Department, where the boy watched cartoons, per The Washington Post.
The child’s parents, Tammy and Michael Bethel, are facing child endangerment charges after authorities said they found four other boys — ages 11, 12, 15 and 17 — living in squalor. According to WLWT, the home was filled with garbage, cockroaches and liquor bottles. And the smell of urine was overwhelming.
According to the Journal-News — which obtained a copy of the police report — officials wrote that the Bethels created “a substantial risk of health and safety by neglecting the cleanliness in the residence, having a large amount of bugs and spoiled food throughout the residence, not having properly prepared and packaged food for the minor children to eat, and allowing a 7-year-old to wander from the residence without their permission or knowledge, in an attempt to locate food.”
Tammy defended her actions on the Franklin Ohio Police Department Facebook page. “The cop just popped up on the wrong day I hadn’t had a chance to clean the mess that all them kids had made,” she wrote August 12. “BTW my kids didn’t even eat the food that the cops brought them because they had just ate.”
She added: “Another BTW I could throw a rock from my house and hit CVS where my son was at. He goes down there all the time with his brothers.”
Per the Journal-News, all five children were removed from the house and placed with relatives. Both Tammy and Michael have pretrial hearings set for September 16
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