ANAHEIM (CBSLA.com) — Two Orange County parents were taken into custody after reports that they kept their son with severe autism in a cage.
An anonymous caller tipped off Child Protective Services on Tuesday night, informing officials that an 11-year-old boy may have been living in a 6-foot-by-6-foot dog kennel at a home in the 1300 block of South Garrett Street in Anaheim, police said.
When CPS arrived at the residence, the parents, who only speak Vietnamese, ignored them.
Police were later called to the location and entered the home.
“Once inside … they found that there was a cage in one of the bedrooms. Inside that cage was a mattress and it appears to the investigation, at this particular point, that an 11-year-old boy living here, who suffers from autism, was being kept in that cage,” Anaheim police Lt. Bob Dunn said.
According to authorities, the child’s parents placed their son in the cage to control his behavior.
“There was some information that we developed very early on in the investigation from talking to people … that as he has grown older, his outbursts, as it relates to his autistic condition, have become more violent. Less able for the parents to control. It was thought that perhaps they instituted putting him in there to help better control him during these outbursts,” Dunn said.
Police do not know how long he was kept inside the kennel but said he appeared to be healthy.
“This may have been going on for years or something that may have only been happening for a few hours,” Dunn said.
Tracy Trang Lee, 35, and Loi Vo, 40, were arrested on charges of felony child endangerment and false imprisonment. They have since bailed out of jail.
The boy and two of his younger siblings, ages 8 and 10, were taken into protective custody.
A resident named Angela told KCAL9’s Michele Gile that she knew the family as “quiet.”
She said when her mother told her about the arrests, she thought she was kidding.
“I was going to ask her if she was joking or something or playing a prank or something because it’s not the kid’s fault he has autism. It’s the parents’ problem of how they try to abuse him and try to put him up in a cage. I don’t think if I was the boy … I wouldn’t survive in the cage. I would try to break the cage off. It’s just devastating,” Angela said.