(GALVESTON, Texas) — A 9-year-old Texas runaway discovered by police is now in foster care, and his parents are under investigation after he said they made him live in a 6-foot by 8-foot box in their home.
The boy, whose name is being withheld by police, was reported missing from the Galveston home where he lived with his father and stepmother. He was found hours later, but police were prompted to investigate the boy’s living situation when he told officers he ran away because he no longer wanted to be locked in his room.
That room, the father told officers who came to the home, was a 6-foot by 8-foot particle-board box. Authorities said they found a small blanket, socks and a book inside the “room,” which had two locking mechanisms attached to the outside, according to the affidavit provided to ABC News.
“According to the family this was his room — a 6-foot by 8-foot structure,” Lt. Michael Grey of the Galveston police department said.
The boy was removed from the home and is now in foster care. After he was taken away from his father and stepmother, he was interviewed at a child’s advocacy center, where he told a forensic interviewer that his father and stepmother would write the words “liar” and “thief” in permanent marker on his skin while he was in the particle board box, the affidavit states.
The boy also said that his father took a photo of him while he was naked inside the box and told him that he would post the image to a social media site, according to the affidavit.
A Child Protective Services caseworker confirmed with the father on July 25 that he did write on the boy with permanent marker, the affidavit says.
While searching the home, the affidavit says that authorities found a number of items, including crack pipes. Computer hard drives, cell phones and cameras were also found, and they are now all being examined.
“All the electronic devices have been taken to the secret service in Houston. They’re the experts on forensic analysis, to check for any evidence of child pornography,” Lt. Grey told KTRK.
A neighbor, Thomas Johnston, expressed shock when he heard what had allegedly happened to the boy.
“I’ve got a 7-year-old granddaughter and it’s just ridiculous what people do to children today,” he said.
No charges have yet been filed in the case, though an investigation is ongoing, the Galveston police department confirmed to ABC News.
A child protective services hearing has been postponed until late September, police said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN
Kait Richmond, CNN Newswire
Tal Kopan, John Berman and Sunlen Serfaty, CNN Newswire
Ben Oldach, CNN