A 7-year-old Ohio boy who tried to sell his teddy bear last month to buy food prompted authorities to investigate his living conditions, resulting in criminal charges against his parents. The couple pleaded guilty on Friday.
Dayton Daily News reports that Michael and Tammy Bethel, of Franklin County, both pleaded guilty to five first-degree misdemeanor counts of children endangering and are expected to be sentenced on September 27 at the Franklin County Municipal Court. David Chicarelli, Tammy Bethel’s lawyer, said that his client pleaded guilty so that she could get her five children back in her care as soon as possible.
“She wants to move forward with her children and move in the most equitable way to get them back into her care. It was a very mature thing for her to do. The goal is to have the children back. Reunification is basically in motion at this point. It’s hard to give a timeframe, but it’s definitely in the works.”
Tammy bought new clothes and food her children and cleaned her house thoroughly. She currently gets to see her children for two hours a week under supervised visitation.
According to Chicarelli, “This is a really big time in her life to move forward, and I think this was the catalyst she needed.”
In August, Franklin County Officer Steve Dunham found a little boy wandering the downtown area all by himself carrying only a brown teddy bear. The 7-year-old walked to a CVS store nearby, where he asked patrons walking out of the store if they would give him food in exchange for his teddy bear. Officer Dunham, heartbroken by the incident, took the boy to eat at a Subway.
“It broke my heart. He told me he was trying to sell his stuffed animal to get money for food because he hadn’t eaten in several days… [We] said a little prayer and ate dinner together.”
Afterwards, Dunham took the boy back to the Franklin Police Department and began investigating the child’s home situation. Four other siblings were also living with their parents, the Bethels, in an extremely filthy home on Main Street. Photos show empty liquor bottles, cat urine, cockroaches, rotted food, and food stains throughout the home.
Initially, Tammy Bethel was angered by the accusations. She went to the Franklin PD Facebook to express her frustration after they made a public post about the incident.
“U got jokes!!!!! Officer Meyer promised me this info would not be released. And what exactly do my kids need!? I just spent $2000 on school clothes, supplies, and shoes. They didn’t even eat the McDonald’s u bought!!!! You have managed to piss CPS off and now because mine and my husbands name was released they won’t even be able to start school because they’re afraid the kids will mess them up with them good job! My A**.”
The majority of Facebook users who saw her post replied to her with the same contempt she dealt out. One user wrote that Tammy should get off of Facebook and clean, while another person called her a “lazy, useless, and disgusting pig.”
Tammy previously said that an officer stopped by her house before she had a chance to clean it and that her children “made the mess.” Yet, numerous people on social media told her that a house would never get that dirty unless it’s been neglected for numerous months, even years.
The Franklin County Child Welfare Agency removed all five kids from the home and placed them with relatives after police charged the parents with child endangerment. At this time, the Bethels still do not have custody of any of their children.
[Feature Image by Tomsickova Tatyana/Shutterstock]