Calif. city at loss to explain shackled teen case


TERRY COLLINS and MARCUS WOHLSEN
Associated Press
December 10, 2008

TRACY, Calif. – City officials and child-abuse experts don’t understand how the abduction and torture of a teenage boy could have gone undetected for more than a year in this middle-class community once dubbed the second-safest in Northern California.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

“Unless this child was chained in the basement for the duration, it’s just not possible that somebody could not have seen something,” said Lindy Turner-Hardin, executive director of the nonprofit Child Abuse Prevention Council of San Joaquin County.

But neighbors of a Tracy couple didn’t notice much, except that the 16-year-old boy looked very skinny when he was spotted taking out the trash recently. And he was seldom seen outside even though he was of school age.

Authorities said the couple and the boy’s former guardian repeatedly used a baseball bat, a knife and a belt to abuse the teen, often keeping him in chains. The emaciated boy stumbled into a gym behind the family’s home Monday with a chain padlocked to his ankle, pleading for safety and shelter.

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