TORONTO – A malnourished 10-year-old boy was found living in squalor in a locked bedroom at an Ontario home, where authorities allege he'd been held for up to two years by his aunt and uncle, police said Friday.
The boy was fed twice a day with fast food, was left alone for long stretches each day, did not attend school and spoke limited English, authorities said.
Police were alerted to the boy by the Children Aid's Society, which received a tip from the public, London Police Detective Kevin Heslop said. When police arrived to the home where the boy was staying alone at the time, they found him locked in a bedroom with food waste and feces strewn about.
"The bed was soaked in urine as was child's pajamas and there was food remains throughout the house," said Heslop. "The child was confused and upset but the child is doing quite well now."
The boy was taken to hospital Thursday and was diagnosed as being underweight and suffering from malnutrition. He has since been released from hospital and is in the care of the Children's Aid Society.
Officials said the child had access to a toilet and shower because the home's master bedroom had an en suite bathroom, but said the entire house was in squalid condition.
"It's a horrific case and everyone sees it like that," said Heslop. "Of course this is upsetting, it's upsetting to everyone."
His guardians, an uncle and aunt, were arrested Thursday. The couple was charged with forcible confinement and failing to provide basic necessities.
One guardian living in the house also had a 9-year-old biological child who was living with the couple. That child, whose age and gender have not been released, is also now in the care of the Children's Aid Society. Police said there is no evidence that the couple's biological child was confined inside the house and that child attended school.
Police are not releasing the name of the couple charged to protect the identity of the children.
Police said it had no prior dealings with the couple.
Heslop said the boy's biological parents are not in Canada, and that he had lived with his aunt and uncle since he came to the country in 2010. Police have not yet been in contact with the parents and would not reveal where the parents are living or where the boy was born.
Jane Fitzgerald, executive director of London Children Aid's Society, said she is grateful that a vulnerable child has been rescued.
"We're just getting to know this boy but what I can tell you is that among the first things he wanted was regular food and he wants to go to school," said Fitzgerald.