A North Carolina couple who is accused of handcuffing their foster child to their porch with a dead chicken hanging from his neck had their bond collectively set at more than $1 million during a court appearance Monday.
The allegations have shocked the city of Monroe, N.C., in part because the foster child’s mother, 57-year-old Wanda Larson, is a social services supervisor for Union County and an emergency room nurse, the Charlotte Observer reported. Larson and her partner, Dorian Harper, also 57, are facing charges of intentional child abuse, inflicting serious injury, false imprisonment and animal cruelty.
The arrests of Larson and Harper were made after a neighbor called 911 Friday to complain about a hog eating her flowers and biting into her water lines. Authorities who responded to the home found the 12-year-old in his underwear and tied to the porch with a dead chicken hanging on his neck.
Margaret Morton, the neighbor who made the 911 call, said she was disturbed by the sheriff deputies’ discovery.
“I got sick,” Morton told the Observer. “I absolutely got sick because I can’t stand to see children mistreated.”
Larson was put on investigatory suspension by Union County on Friday, according to court records obtained by the newspaper.
Her bond was set at $520,000 while Harper was given a $500,000 bond, according to Charlotte television station WSOC.
Larson and Harper’s next court date is scheduled for Jan. 7.
Cindy Robbins, a cousin of the child, claimed he was the victim of previous abuse.
"Wanda Sue Larson put this child on the phone and said, 'Tell your mother that because you have been bad you are no longer allowed to speak with your mother, you are not allowed to have a birthday, you are not allowed to have Christmas and you are not allowed to have any contact with any of your family or any of your cousins,'" Robbins told WSOC.
A neighbor said there were whispers of inappropriate treatment of other adopted children at the home, but no evidence that there was abuse.
"The littlest one was coming up the street, crying and hollering. He was panicking. He come up, 'Mister can I have something to eat? I'm starving. Can I come in please?'" said neighbor Steve Mills. "We've heard but we never had proof or nothing. We always heard that they were mean to them.”
Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey claimed that the couple underfed the children and that one child was chained to a piece of railroad rail that was covered in animal droppings.
"As bad as you think that house was on the outside, that's probably the cleanest part of that place," he said.
Cathey said investigators will also be looking into whether social services ignored conditions at the home.
"How did those adoptive kids get there? How did this get approved? Those are questions we want answered also and we'll get that as we move forward," he said.