Deputies say child found with chicken around neck was ‘routinely chained in home’

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Dorian Lee Harper and Wanda Sue Larson, both 57, and of Union County, were arrested and charged in the incident.

Dorian Lee Harper and Wanda Sue Larson, both 57, and of Union County, were arrested and charged in the incident.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Authorities say it appears the 11-year-old boy found handcuffed to a porch with a dead chicken around his neck was routinely handcuffed in the home.

Union County Sheriff’s Capt. Cody Luke also told The Charlotte Observer on Sunday that human waste was found on the home’s floor.

Wanda Sue Larson and Dorian Lee Harper were arrested Friday after a deputy found the boy. Larson is a supervisor with Union County Department of Social Services. The couple adopted four children and was fostering a fifth child.

The couple is charged with intentional child abuse inflicting injury, false imprisonment and cruelty to animals. They are scheduled to be in court Monday. It wasn’t clear whether they have lawyers yet.

The 11-year-old boy and four other children, ages 8, 9, 13 and 14, were removed from the home and placed in protective custody in Davidson County.

Authorities learned about the situation after a deputy responded Friday to a complaint about a hog at a neighboring house saw the boy wearing a T-shirt and jeans shivering outside.

Pictures of the home where abuse allegedly took place. (Image courtesy Marlena Baldacci/CNN)

Pictures of the home where abuse allegedly took place. (Image courtesy Marlena Baldacci/CNN)

Wanda Sue Larson, a supervisor with the Union County Department of Social Services, and Dorian Lee Harper, an emergency room nurse at CMC-Union in Monroe, face charges of intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, false imprisonment, and cruelty to animals.

Larson also faces charges of willful failure to discharge her duty as a public official. Cathey said Larson has worked with his agency, as well as others around Union County.

Harper reportedly lived at the residence with Larson, who was not present at the time of Friday’s incident. They had adopted four of the children and were serving as foster parents for the 11-year-old.

Cathey said there was a room where the 11-year-old was cuffed overnight to a 3-foot piece of railroad. The sheriff said four of the children, including the 11-year-old, slept on blankets in the room.

Neighbor Steve Mills recounted an incident from the past summer when one of the children came up to him.

Pictures of the home where abuse allegedly took place. (Image courtesy Marlena Baldacci/CNN)

Pictures of the home where abuse allegedly took place. (Image courtesy Marlena Baldacci/CNN)

“The littlest one was running up the street, crying, hollering, he was panicking, come up here ‘Mister, can I have something to eat, I’m starving. Can I come in please?” My wife was going to go in there and make him a sandwich if he’s hungry,” he said.

“We didn’t think anything of it because the other two boys came up, saying “He’s new.” So we just figured he was just getting used to the area and being with a new family and his new siblings and so we thought nothing of it.”

Cathey said all of the kids appeared to be underweight for their ages, and they were hungry after being removed from the home.

“We took them immediately and bought them pizza. That’s what they wanted was pizza and that’s what they got,” he said.

Cathey said Harper has requested an attorney and Larson is cooperating with authorities.

Harper and Larson are expected to appear in court on Monday morning.


    • Daphene Wrenn

      it would most probably be either a section of a railroad iron rail or a big railroad tie. Either would be too heavy and the cuff’s could cut into his skin if he tried to pull away..

    • Daphene Wrenn

      not sure how rural the community is, where they are but a dead chicken would draw dogs and other animals. with him being handcuffed he could not fend off anything therefore could be hurt or killed by any animal. these are some sick low lifes who need to pay. I was reared with my brothers in an orphanage and it was what saved us. Our parents had passed, it was not the type of situation that is in the news. Need to tie them the same way and let a few hungry dogs in their yard. I know that was horrible to say but I cannot understand abusing anyone much less an innocent little child.

      • Pearl Barber

        im with you give them the same treatment maybe if the law operated that way and the one doing the crime got the same crime they might think twice before doing it but then they obviously dont have and human feelings thank god the children are free my heart breaks for them and how many more we live in a very sick world

  • Marjorie Horton

    Do you mean a railroad tie? or the metal of a Track? One more question Why a Dead Chicken? Were these adults practicing some type of Evil Cult or was this just to condition this child? God Bless those poor poor children! Prayers for all four of them! The one Foster child went from endangerment to captivity it sounds like because children do not become foster children easily it seems to take a lot to remove children from dangerous homes and take them to safety!

  • Sandra

    Whats this world coming to? A supervisor for child protected services and a nurse abusing children I mean come on really thats crazy. They should throw the book at these people there supposed to be protectors an there doing this in there own home. Just shows you never know anyone truly an people cant be trusted.

  • Karyn Sanchez

    this really upset me. I have studied to be a social worker but had to put it on hold because of my health issues. Its people like this that make me want to finish. so these kids can have someone to give them a voice and protect them. she was suppose to protect them and abused what they had asked her to do. My one concern is how come no one ever did a follow up in the home? Just because she worked for social services does not mean they should have not followed the normal procedure for adopted or foster parents. That is why this happens so much in the system and needs to be put to an end. They should start by making this couple an example of, so it never happens again.

    • Sam Smith

      Abuse goes on in most of the states, and many kids are killed. Those that killed their kids are given a light sentence, since kids don’t earn money for the family. They get 3/4 years in jail, if even that. AZ has a high rate of deaths, social services are the worst, they continue to get more funds, hired more social workers, but the problems remains. States should do away with Social Services, they do more harm then protect the kids.

  • Ashley

    What I don’t understand is to be a foster parent don’t they do regular home visits??? I’ve never been a foster parent, or a foster child but It would make sense to me to check the home regularly, and unannounced to make sure everything was “on the up and up” with the family. My heart goes out to these children.

  • Sam Smith

    This woman was a supervisor of social services, how did she treat other abused kids from other families. A family member just said on TV she constantly abuse the kids, withheld food from them, didn’t send them to school and a neighbor said they would come to the door begging for food. So why did this abuse go on so long and she was not arrested. She and her man should be HUNG. they deserve to die for the treatment of the kids.

  • Judy

    does social services not check these people out before giving them children to look after.they need to wear a rotton skunk around their neck!!!!

  • Elaine

    These “people” are absolutely disgusting! Please take their faces off of here as I can’t even stand to look at them. I shudder to think what those kids went through! They don’t need lawyers. What on earth could their defense be? These were licensed people that were supposed to protect children and others? I’m going to try really hard to put my anger aside and pray for those children that were supposed to have a better life.

  • Cathy ward

    The county could have easily assessed an improper environment with a drive by. I think this is implorable!!!! Not only are they guilty but the county is also.

  • lora

    I wonder if any of the family members or neighbors that saw this stuff happening report it to anyone and if not Why not? Or if it just wasnt followed up on.

  • Paula Maricle

    I am so thankful to God that, that Deputy noticed the boy outside and was concerned enough to check out what was going on. Thank You Lord for sending the help that these children needed.

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