After Boy, 7, is Found Selling His Stuffed Animal For Food, Police Officer Goes Beyond Call of Duty
When a 7-year-old boy was spotted alone on the street and trying to sell his stuffed animal for food, Ohio police officers went above and beyond to help him.
Officer Steve Dunham from the Franklin Police Department told InsideEdition.com his team responded to a call about an unsupervised young boy walking around in a "high traffic" area.
According to Dunham, the 7-year-old was standing outside a pharmacy trying to sell his stuffed animal for money to buy food.
"He said he was hungry and hadn't eaten in several days," Dunham said, "so he tried to sell his stuffed dog to get some money for something to eat."
Dunham wrote in his incident report that the boy wasn't even wearing any shoes.
So the officer took the boy to a Subway restaurant next door and picked up sandwiches before returning to the police department to have dinner and share a prayer with the child.
"Ultimately, it broke my heart," he said. "I wanted to bring him home."
As Dunham returned to do more police work, other officers pitched in and spent time with the boy watching cartoons and showing him the ropes.
Meanwhile, Officer Amanda Myers investigated the home, and discovered the boy's family was "living in squalor," Dunham said.
When she arrived, the parents were apparently asleep and "did not realize [the 7-year-old] was not at the residence," he said.
In an incident report, Myers reported seeing bugs and spoiled food throughout the home.
"It was a really bad situation," Dunham told InsideEdition.com.
According to Chief Russ Whitman, the boy's 10-year-old and 13-year old siblings were at home, while two older siblings, 15 and 17, were out with friends.
Officers alerted child services and the siblings were placed in the temporary custody of their uncle, according to the police report.
Their parents Michael Bethel, 35, and Tammi Bethel, 37, have each been charged with five counts of misdemeanor child endangerment.
They both pleaded not guilty at a Tuesday arraignment and were released on their own recognizance. They have since been ordered to have no contact with the children.