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Whiz Kid’s Father Jailed, Accused of Endangering Son

United Press International

Authorities arrested the father of 11-year-old whiz kid Adragon De Mello, a June college graduate, Tuesday on suspicion of felony child endangerment and the youngster remained in protective custody.

Agustin De Mello, 59, was arrested and booked after his release from a psychiatric hold that police had imposed when De Mello refused to cooperate in a police search of his home, Dist. Atty. Art Danner said.

Police obtained a search warrant of the home of De Mello and his son after extensive interviews with the boy’s 36-year-old mother led officials to believe there might be evidence of child neglect.

Psychiatric Observation

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The elder De Mello told officers when they arrived that he was ailing with a heart problem. After he refused to voluntarily seek medical attention, police took him to a local hospital for psychiatric observation.

“Adragon was placed into a foster home under the authority of (the Department of) Child Protective Services. As far as the boy is concerned, he is now in their hands,” Sgt. Bill Aluffi said.

Janet Reed, Santa Cruz County child welfare manager, would not disclose where Adragon had been taken or what the boy may have said.

In De Mello’s home, police confiscated five loaded handguns and suitcases of ammunition. They also removed Adragon’s schoolwork and more than 20 videotapes.

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Adragon’s graduation from UC at Santa Cruz generated national publicity. Last month De Mello told reporters that his son might be forced to continue his education in the Soviet Union or another foreign country because the youngster had been refused entrance to doctoral programs in the United States.

Visitation Rights Dispute

In recent weeks Cathy Gunn, Adragon’s mother, started legal proceedings against De Mello over visitation rights, police said in a report.

A police affidavit said Gunn alleged De Mello “made a suicide pact with his son in the past” when the boy’s academic career was in jeopardy.

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