A Missouri couple is facing child endangerment charges after allegedly leaving their disabled pre-teen son alone at their old house for weeks while the rest of the family lived together in a new home.
Janine Allen, 30, and Brendon Luke, 29, were arrested on charges of felony abuse or neglect of a child after a neighbor called police in early June to report that a 12-year-old boy with cerebral palsy had been left to live by himself in a home in Blue Springs for a number of weeks, The Kansas City Star reports.
Court records state the couple moved to a new, larger home a few miles away while the child, who is in a wheelchair, was left at the old house and monitored with a two-way surveillance system, according to the Associated Press. When authorities responded to the couple's new home, Allen told police, via a doorbell camera, that the child was fine and that she could see him on the camera; she later told authorities that she and her husband used a system that alerted them of any movement or noise in the old home, the outlet reports. She also claimed that her son was taught how to call 911 or her phone number in the event of an emergency.
However, police said that they spoke with a Children's Mercy clinic, who informed them that the child in question should not be left unsupervised because he is "medically complex." Likewise, a school resource officer reported that the boy needs general assistance with mobility, as well as with meals and using the restroom.
Investigators reported that the home the boy was staying in smelled of urine and feces, and the phone did not have a dial tone, according to The Kansas City Star. Surveillance footage obtained by the police show the boy saying, “I want out,” and “I don’t like this, mommy." Other footage shows Luke coming into the boy's room to throw food on the floor but leaving the home in less than six minutes, police said.
Police said that the couple's new home had sufficient space for the boy and the couple's other children to have their own rooms, but witnesses reported Allen telling them that she didn't want the child to damage the walls at the new house, The Star reports, citing court records. She allegedly admitted to police on June 11 that her son had been left alone in the house since Mother's Day because it was the best way to protect her family, according to the outlet.
An employee with Children's Division had been in communication with the family since October 2019, and told the family that the boy was becoming "increasingly violent" and would benefit from being placed in a residential facility, the Associated Press reports. However, Allen never filled out the required forms, the unnamed worker, who reportedly was unaware that the boy had been abandoned, said.
While court records did not show an attorney for Luke, an attorney for Allen suggested that there is more to the story than what's included in court records, according to the Associated Press.
"I've just entered my appearance on the case and there is a lot more to the story than what's been presented in the probable cause statement," Allen's attorney, P.J. O'Connor, told McClatchy News. "Until I've viewed all the evidence I don't want to comment any further."
Both Allen and Luke are being held on $250,000 bond.
The Blue Springs Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Oxygen.com. Police said that an emergency custody order granted Jackson County Family Court custody of the child, but Luke, ignoring the order, took the child to a residential facility in Southern Missouri, according to the Associated Press.
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