Police find starving boy trying to sell teddy bear to buy food

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A seven-year-old boy was found wandering the streets of Franklin, Ohio attempting to sell his teddy bear for food because the boy hadn’t eaten in several days.

The child was approached by Officer Steven Dunham of the Franklin Police Department. Dunham said, “It broke my heart. He told me he was trying to sell his stuffed animal to get money for food.”

After police made contact with the child they investigated his home and found he had four other brothers, all of who were living in absolutely horrific conditions. The home was littered with liquor bottles and smelled of cat urine. The boy’s parents, Tammy and Michael Bethel, have been charged with 10 counts of child endangerment. At this time the 7-year-old and his four brothers, whose ages are eleven, twelve, fifteen, and seventeen, have all been removed from the dilapidated unsafe home and are now living with various other members of their family. There has been no word if social services will be placing the boys into long-term foster care.

Officer Dunham said of the case’s outcome, “We would like to go home at the end of the day feeling like we’ve done something positive and, you know, had some kind of positive impact.”

It is assured Dunham’s quick eye in spotting the boy will indeed have a positive impact. He and his brothers are now away from their neglectful and dangerous parents. Hopefully they will have an opportunity to grow up and have a normal life, but only time will tell.

Police said the 7-year-old boy and his brothers, ages 11, 12, 15 and 17, have been removed from the home and are now staying with family members.

After further investigation, police said the child and his four brothers lived in squalor. Investigators described the home on Main Street as full of garbage, cat urine and liquor bottles.

Investigators charged the parents, Tammy and Michael Bethel, with 10 counts of child endangering.

“(Police) treated them like their own kids, and that’s exactly what law enforcement does in situations like this. How would we want someone to treat our kids?” Whitman said. “Hopefully, these officers’ actions change these kids’ lives and maybe change the lives of the parents to become better parents.”

Dunham said he doesn’t look at it as anything but just doing his job, and he made a new friend in the process.

“I came back to check on him and he was hiding. He jumped out to scare me when I came back in the building; he got me real good,” Dunham said. “(We) would like to go home at the end of the day feeling like (we’ve) done something positive and, you know, had some kind of positive impact.”

The victim’s advocate sent the Franklin Police Department a thank-you note, commending them for going the extra mile to give a vulnerable child some comfort and safety.

Police said the 7-year-old boy and his brothers, ages 11, 12, 15 and 17, have been removed from the home and are now staying with family members.

The parents have been ordered to have no contact with them.

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