DALLAS — Dallas police found a 6-year-old boy locked in a shed, leading to the arrest of his grandmother and her boyfriend.
Officers found the child with his hands tied behind his back in the shed at the grandmother's home Sunday night, according to KTVT-TV.
CBSDFW.COM reported that the grandmother, Esmeralda Lira, 53, and 64-year-old Jose Balderas now face felony charges of endangering a child. Their bonds are each set at $100,000.
When cops first arrived at the residence, they asked Lira about the child’s location, and she claimed he was with his mom. Thanks to help from a man living in the back of the property, they found the boy in the shed.
The child was not taken to a hospital after he was evaluated, police said.
The grandmother told officers she'd locked the child in the shed as punishment and her boyfriend said it had been happening for at least two weeks because the child was stealing food, KTVT reported.
The child told officers the abuse began after he was home from school during the coronavirus pandemic, the station said.
Sarah Burns of the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center said that because teachers make many child abuse reports, students learning from home during the pandemic may be at greater risk.
"Our concern has always been children being with their abusers all the time and having no safe adult to confide in or a safe adult that can report that abuse," she said.
The Advocacy Center has seen a 50% decrease in reports in the last six weeks, compared with the six weeks leading up to the pandemic.
Jami Ganz of New York Daily News contributed to this report via Tribune News Service.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.