(MONROE, N.C.) — A child protective services office in North Carolina is investigating how one of its supervisors was arrested for allegedly tying a dead chicken around her 11-year-old foster son’s neck and handcuffing him to her front porch.
Wanda Sue Larson and Dorian Lee Harper, both 57, were arrested Friday after a deputy sheriff spotted the boy cuffed by the ankles to the porch outside the couple’s dilapidated home in Monroe, N.C. The couple appeared in court Monday to ask for a lawyer.
Larson is a Child Protective Services supervisor and Harper is a nurse, a twist that has residents of Union County in shock.
“Obviously this incident has shocked us all,” Chief Deputy Sheriff Ben Baily told ABC News. “Both of these individuals worked in jobs which are considered positions of trust in society, and obviously the fact that something like this could go so wrong causes concern for us as well.”
The Union County Department of Social Services has launched its own investigation into the alleged abuse.
“Union County officials wish to express our concerns and compassion for the children who are victims of the abuse that was recently discovered in our county,” read a statement released by the department. “We wish to assure the public that this matter is being addressed with all deliberate speed.”
It appears the boy, 11, was repeatedly handcuffed at the residence, authorities said.
“There was a room in the house that was a lockable room where the foster child was allegedly fastened to a piece of railroad iron,” Baily said.
Four other adoptive children, ages 14, 13, 11, and 8, also lived at the residence, which sheriff’s office officials have described as in an extreme case of disrepair, with the odor of urine and feces about the home. Livestock and other animals were spotted roaming free in the front and back yards.
“The children are currently in the custody of the social services department of another county, and they are receiving good care,” the statement from the Union County Social Services Department read.
“None of the five children in the home of Mr. Harper and Ms. Larson were placed by Union County during the time that Ms. Larson has been employed by the Union County Department of Social Services.”
Police say the children in the house had scrapes and scratches, and that the sheriff’s department is now in the process of evaluating those kids to determine whether they were subject to abuse as well.
“It’s obviously an ongoing investigation,” Baily said.
Harper and Larson were charged with intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, false imprisonment, and cruelty to animals. Larson is also charged with failure to discharge her duty as a public official.
The couple remains in custody at Union County jail with their next court date set for Jan. 7. It is not clear whether the court-appointed attorneys the couple requested have being assigned.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Eric Schulzke, Deseret News
Eric Bradner, CNN