5 Kids, 18 Cats In Back Of Moving Van: Indiana Arrest Shocks Residents
Five kids and 18 cats were found by Indiana police on Wednesday night in the back of a moving van traveling across the country. Cramped in an unheated cargo section, the children - and one adult daughter who was sitting in front with her parents - were quickly put into the care of Child Protective Services.
The parents - David K. Detjen, 41, and Rebecca S. Detjen, 40, of Fairmount City, Pa. - were arrested and placed in the Henry County Jail in Indiana on four felony counts of neglect of dependents. Bond was set at $5,000, said Sgt. John D. Bowling of the Indiana State Police.
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"They were down on their luck for sure," Sgt. Bowling said, being much more generous in his account than most observers would be. "They didn't have a car. This was a last-ditch effort to follow up on a possible job in San Bernardino [in California]. But it still was an unwise decision [to allow children to travel in the back of the van]. The dad has told investigators he knew it was a bad idea."
Police in Pendleton, Ind., received an anonymous call early Wednesday from a relative of the family saying that a moving van had left Pennsylvania with children in the back cargo section. Officials were extremely concerned because temperatures were below freezing last night. It is also known that carbon-monoxide poisoning can occur from the exhaust fumes when sitting in the back of a truck.
When troopers finally found the truck at an interstate exit, it was shortly before 10 p.m. on Wednesday. Children in the truck ranged in age from 9 to 18. But a 14-year-old and 15-year-old were sitting in front with their parents.
Originally, it was believed that the children in the cargo section of the van had no means of communicating with their parents in front. But police later found out that the children had phones."Troopers did discover two cell phones back there," Bowling said. "We think they were able to communicate."
Nevertheless, the terrifying scene has left Indiana residents shaken, wondering if the children should be allowed to ever live with their parents again.
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