SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) – A 37-year-old mom is in custody on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child after police say she wrapped a chain around her 10-year-old son’s legs and locked it to prevent him from leaving their apartment while she was at work.
Cpl. Anthony Bertaga with the Santa Ana Police Department said that Irma Navarro (pictured above) was worried that her son may be “getting into gangs and hanging out with the wrong crowds, possibly going to get involved in criminal activity,” and that this was apparently her last resort.
The 10-year-old was discovered by neighbors outside the apartment just before noon on Thursday. Police say his mother left him inside in his underwear but the boy managed to pull jean shorts up over the chains by sticking both of his legs through one pant leg.
“He would hop, obviously because he couldn’t walk and he would get tired, so he’d sit down and get back up. And then my mom asked him, ‘Where are you going?’ And he said, ‘I’m going to my friend’s house, so they can unlock me,'” said neighbor Katherine Reyes.
Another neighbor, Jose Salinas, used bolt cutters to free the boy as police arrived on the scene. Salinas said, “he [the boy] was on the ground and could definitely see a lot of fear in him, and he was crying.”
Authorities say Navarro has two other children. One was at school while the other was with a babysitter. She told police she could not afford a babysitter for more than one child.
All three are now in protective custody and hopefully won’t ever have to wear jean shorts again.