A Blanchester couple was charged with Child Endangering Monday after a 2-year-old child was found wandering the neighborhood unattended and police say they discovered the couple barricaded the children in their room at nights, according to BPD Chief Scott Reinbolt.
According to Reinbolt, on Wednesday, Feb. 3, Clinton County Children Services notified Blanchester Police of a complaint that two children were being locked in their bedrooms at night. An investigation was undertaken by the police department, which revealed that the children, ages 5 and 2, sleep in upstairs bedrooms of their home in the 500 block of East Cherry Street, Reinbolt said. The children reside there with their mother, Chelsey Neal, 24, and her boyfriend, Corwin Duncan, 23.
“According to evidence gathered in the case, sometime in the past month, Neal and Corwin determined that it was necessary to confine the children to their bedrooms at night by means of blocking their bedroom doors with large pieces of furniture,” Reinbolt said. “Since the bedroom doors open toward the inside of the room, additional efforts were taken to prevent the children from leaving the rooms by attaching the doorknobs of their bedroom to the large pieces of furniture with a coat hanger, making it impossible for the children to get out of the second-story bedrooms.”
On Saturday afternoon, Feb. 6, Blanchester Police were called to the residence after Neal’s 2-year-old daughter was found wandering the neighborhood unattended, Reinbolt said. “A good samaritan found the child and returned her to her home, then anonymously called police,” he said.
“We would very much like to speak to this good samaritan, and urge her to call the police station at 937-783-4702,” Reinbolt said.
The subsequent investigation revealed that the Neal and Duncan were home, that the child was left unsupervised and wandered out of the house, Reinbolt said.
On Monday night both Neal and Duncan were charged with Endangering Children for violating their duty to care for and protect the children, Reinbolt said. They were served summonses requiring that they answer the charges in Clinton County Municipal Court.
Reinbolt said the children remain in custody of the parents. “In order to take the kids from the home, Ohio law requires that there be ‘reasonable grounds to believe that the child is in immediate danger from the child’s surroundings and that the child’s removal is necessary to prevent immediate or threatened physical harm’,” he told the News Journal. “We made it clear that locking the kids in the bedroom is not acceptable and they have ceased that practice. After Saturday’s incident, they are keeping a much closer eye on the kids.
“It’s a tough call, but taking the kids from the home is sometimes more traumatic to them than leaving them there.”