- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

CHICAGO, Jan. 27 (UPI) — Four adults have been charged with child endangerment after police discovered a 3-year-old foster child chained by his neck to a bed frame.

Six children were in the custody of a registered foster parent at a far South Side home that was raided by officers looking for guns and drugs around 4 a.m. Saturday.

Police found the boy under a sheet on a urine-stained bed; a heavy 10-foot chain looped three times around his neck and padlocked.

"When we pulled the cover off him, we saw the chains," a shaken officer told reporters. "They were pretty tight … he couldn't move his neck."

Prosecutors said the boy's 64-year-old foster mother said she chained him at night because the developmentally disabled child would steal food from the refrigerator and leave the door open.

His twin, who also lived in the home, and four other children ages 3 to 15 were not harmed.

Charged with child endangerment were Mary Bryant, Melvin Bond, 49; and Melinda Bryant 29. Melinda Bryant also faced drug charges after crack cocaine and marijuana were found in her bedroom. Eric Bond, 26, was charged with felony possession of a firearm and held on $10,000 bond.

The boy had severe sores from a soiled diaper covered by a tightly tied plastic grocery bag.

Veteran police officers said they were deeply disturbed by the incident, one of two child abuses cases that shocked the city during the weekend.

In the second case, police acting on a tip from a child abuse hotline found five children living in a freezing Northwest Side basement that had no food, no toilet and no bed. The five children were wards of the state who had been adopted by Robert and Annette Hernandez.

The couple's 10-month-old biological child was not kept in the basement.

Robert Hernandez, 55, and Annette, 46, were charged with six counts of child endangerment and domestic battery.

All 12 children in both cases were placed in protective custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The agency's foster-care placements and adoption polices drew harsh criticism from Cook County Public Guardian Patrick Murphy.

"They are fully responsible," Murphy told the Chicago Tribune. "If a foster parent has five kids and has handguns and dope in the home, someone isn't doing a good job of monitoring."

Murphy said some foster parents were only interested in a monthly stipend they receive from the state for each foster child they take in.

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