Five children from a Chicago-area suburb are in protective custody and their parents under arrest after a bizarre incident at a Missouri Walmart during which two of the kids were found bound and blindfolded in or around the family vehicle.
An alarmed passerby called police in the parking lot of the Walmart after spotting two of the five children, a five-year-old boy and seven-year-old girl, near the family’s older Chevy Suburban, which had broken down.
Inside the vehicle were a 12-year-old, 13-year-old and 15-year-old child, all apparently unbound. According to police, the family had experienced car trouble sometime Monday night while the family traveled to Arizona, necessitating the stop.
What occurred between the car difficulties the family faced Monday and the time of the call to police at around 10:30 AM Wednesday was not clear. Police spokesman Trent McKinley admitted that the incident shook some of the law enforcement officials that responded to the scene up, and said the case was certainly strange:
“This is a very unusual and disturbing type of event. It’s certainly not something that many of us have seen… None of us know what would have happened if we didn’t have an intervention by the person who was shopping at Walmart who not only saw something but called the police.”
Kathy Grotefend, a neighbor of parents Adolfo and Deborah Gomez, reported to press that the family had been selling off all their material possessions in the weeks prior to the Walmart incident. McKinley suggested that the incident may belie an even more bizarre precipitate, and that police are looking into what occurred prior to the arrests:
“We’re trying to create a time line of what has occurred in past days and weeks with this family. We would like to attempt to determine what the adults’ intentions were with the children and as to why the children were bound.”
Both parents have been charged with two counts of child abuse and five counts of aggravated child endangerment.