Parents of Boy, 7, Found Selling Stuffed Animal for Food Plead Guilty to Child Endangerment
The parents of an Ohio boy found wandering the streets trying to sell his stuffed animal for food have pleaded guilty to child endangerment, authorities said.
Tammy and Michael Bethel were arrested after Franklin Police Officer Steve Dunham spotted their 7-year-old son outside a CVS trying to sell his stuffed dog to get money to buy food for himself and his four brothers last month, Dunham told InsideEdition.com at the time.
Dunham brought the little boy, who wasn’t even wearing shoes, to a Subway restaurant next door and picked up sandwiches before returning to the police department, where the child was entertained as investigators paid a visit to his home.
Garbage, liquor bottles, cat urine and cockroaches were found in the home, where the child’s parents were apparently asleep and unaware that their son was missing, according to an incident report.
Tammy and Michael Bethel pleaded guilty to dual counts of child endangerment Friday. They will be sentenced on September 27 in Franklin Municipal Court, the Dayton Daily News reported.
David Chicarelli, Tammy Bethel’s attorney, told the newspaper that his client has accepted all responsibility, saying: “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 parents had initially denied any wrongdoing, pleading not guilty to the charges against them at their arraignments in August.
Tammy Bethel also responded to critics and the police’s allegations on social media, writing on a Franklin Police Department Facebook post on August 12: “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!!!!” she continued. “You have managed to piss CPS off and now because mine and my husbands(sic) 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**!”
In another post written later that day, she wrote: “People my children are not in need if you would like to donate on behalf of my children I would ask that you donate to Children's Hospital in Dayton specifically the oncology department.”
On August 26, she shared a photo of a stuffed animal, writing: “I’m going to BBQ this stupid dog ASAP!!!”
“I’m going to wait until the boys are home and we can do it together. I should try and sell it on [eBay],” she continued, including the "face with tears of joy" emoji.
The 7-year-old boy and his four siblings, ages 10, 13, 15 and 17, were placed in the temporary custody of their uncle at the time of the incident, according to the police report.
Chicarelli, her attorney, told the Daily News that Tammy Bethel is allowed to see her children two hours a week, with supervision and that she has bought new food and clothes, and cleaned the house.
“The goal is to have the children back,” he said. “Reunification is basically in motion at this point. It’s hard to give a timeframe, but it’s definitely in the works.”
Tammy Bethel did not immediately respond to InsideEdition.com’s request for comment.