Neighbors of an 11-year-old autistic boy who police allege was kept in a dog kennel by his parents in what may have been an attempt to control his outbursts said they never noticed anything out of the ordinary at the Anaheim house.
Loi Vu, 40, and Tracy Le, 35, were arrested Tuesday night after Child Protective Services officials and police were sent to their home in the 1300 block of South Garrett Street on a tip that a boy there was being kept in a large dog kennel, said Anaheim police Lt. Bob Dunn.
The couple were arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment and false imprisonment. The boy and his two younger siblings were taken into protective custody, Dunn said.
Bob Emerson, 49, lives next door to the family and described them as the perfect neighbors.
“I never saw anything that would concern me,” Emerson said. “I’m still trying to grasp it.”
He would sometimes see the 11-year-old’s two siblings playing in the backyard, but the children often played inside, Emerson said. When a school bus stopped in front of the home in the mornings, the parents of the boy would walk him out.
Child welfare workers went to the home about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, followed soon afterward by police. When officers went inside they found the cage. Inside it was a mattress and bedding, Dunn said.
The cage was big enough that the boy wasn’t forced into an "unnatural position," Dunn said. It appeared as though his parents resorted to placing their son in the dog kennel to help control his outbursts, Dunn said.
Other than the cage, there was no other signs of potential abuse, Dunn said, adding the boy was well nourished and had no visible injuries. He was taken to a local hospital for examination.
Frederick Sanborn, 69, who lives across the street from the pistachio-colored, one-level home, said the family lived there for at least five years.
“I didn’t have any sense that anything was wrong,” Sanborn said. “Everyone in the home, including the children, seemed really happy.”
Recently he would hear some yelling coming from the house, but couldn't tell who was yelling or what the topic was. It may have been a situation where the parents didn’t have the means or knowledge to take better care of their austistic son, Sanborn said.
Other relatives live in the home along with a second family that’s renting a room, Dunn said. The second family is out of town and police are trying to reach them so they can be interviewed.
Investigators, meanwhile, are working on getting translators so they can interview the parents, who are of Vietnamese descent, Dunn said.
For Orange County news, follow @AdolfoFlores3.