A man and a woman from Illinois have been arrested on child abuse charges following a strange incident at a Walmart store in Lawrence. Police say children -- who were bound and blindfolded -- were discovered sitting near a vehicle in the parking lot late this (WED) morning. A total of five children were taken into protective custody following the incident. The children range in age from five to 15.
This is the official news release from the Lawrence Police Department:
On June 13, 2012 at 10:30am officers responded to Wal-Mart (550 Congressional Drive) in regards to checking the welfare of a child. A patron of the store reported seeing what they believed to be a young child bound and blindfolded, seated on the ground near a vehicle.
The responding officer arrived and observed two young children (ages five and seven), bound in the same fashion, seated on the ground near a vehicle in the west portion of the parking lot. The officer attempted to make contact with an adult male near the vehicle. The male resisted contact by the officer, who then attempted to detain him. As the adult suspect entered a vehicle and actively resisted the officer’s attempt to place him in custody, the officer deployed a Taser and was able to secure the suspect with the assistance of other officers.
Three other children, ages twelve, thirteen and fifteen were determined to be inside the vehicle. Officers soon learned an adult female, believed to be the child’s mother, was inside Wal-Mart. She was located by officers inside the store and taken into custody without incident.
The adult suspects were each arrested on two counts of child abuse and five counts of child endangerment. The male suspect had an additional charge of obstruction of legal process stemming from the altercation with responding officers.
Officers and social workers are working on making temporary placement arrangements for the five children who were travelling from their home in Northlake, Illinois to visit relatives in Arizona. Their vehicle reportedly experienced mechanical problems Monday evening on I-70, which necessitated the stop in Lawrence.
The arrestees were taken to the Douglas County Jail.