DE SOTO, Kansas - Several hours after arresting the boy’s mother, Johnson County Sheriff’s Deputies found a malnourished 6-year-old boy hidden in the attic of a filthy DeSoto duplex Tuesday.
His grandmother called authorities earlier that day to request a welfare check of the child.
When deputies arrived around 5 p.m. to the home, in the 8200 block of Center Drive, the mother - Rachel L. Perez - said the boy was not in the home.
Perez, 26, was arrested on an outstanding warrant.
Deputies went back to the home around 11 p.m. at the request of a relative and found the child, described as “very fragile and malnourished” in the home’s attic.
Tom Erickson with the Johnson County Sheriff's Office explains, "We left and we got called back later to the same residence by the same person asking us to check again. We did and that's when we found the 6 year old in the attic."
Deputies said he was so thin his skeletal structure could easily be seen through his skin.
The neighborhood's property manager, Tom Roberson, says the house was filthy and unfit for a child, "There was so much feces everywhere, the crib was full of feces. It was just a total mess in there." He says the attic was no different.
Roberson continues, "I didn't get to see the kid myself but they (police) said he had feces on his face, he was down to 20 pounds. He was 7 years old and he was like 20 pounds."
Perez’ brother said Perez told family the boy was staying with his father and that he hasn’t seen his nephew since June or July.
He says Perez is the mother of three young girls who also live in the duplex and is pregnant with a fifth child.
The woman who lives on the other side of the duplex said she never saw, or smelled anything suspicious. She was shocked to learn the boy was living in the attic.
Perez was being held Thursday at the New Century Adult Detention Center.
Court records show she is facing charges of abuse of a child under 18 and aggravated endangering a child.
Perez was arraigned Thursday afternoon. She was given a court-appointed attorney, and bond was set at $250,000. Currently she is not allowed contact with her children.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe says, "Our office treats these cases very seriously. Fortunately we don't have a lot of these types of cases in Johnson County but when they do arise, we feel very strongly that children are those, many times, who can't speak for themselves or protect themselves. So, it's the duty of our prosecutors to be the voice for those victims."
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