The press release from Howard County Sheriff Stan Parker opens with a wholesome slice of Norman Rockwell Americana, with an officer responding to a report of a child riding his bike in the dark. When questioned, the seven-year-old boy told police he was running away from home.
And we've all either done that or had our kids do it to us. Up to that point, Parker's account is almost heartwarming.
Up to that point and no further, because sadly and sickeningly, from there the account veers beyond David Lynch territory. And it's all the worse because it's real.
"Contact was made with family members and they stated the child had been restrained by using a 'straight jacket' and they didn't know how he got out," the release continues.
Oh, I get it. There's nothing wrong with encasing your kid in a straitjacket. It's only a problem if he escapes.
And still it gets worse. So much worse.
"Upon further investigation it was determined that the living conditions of the residence were not suitable," the release continues. "Child Protective Services was called and they took custody of three children ages 7, 5 and 2."
Arrested and charged with child endangerment were Edgar Dale Whitt, 54, and Tamara Whitt, 26.
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"It was also discovered," the release continues, "that Edgar Dale Whitt had fathered a child with [a relative]," the release went on. He faces a felony charge for that. (And not to make light of a horrible situation, but in journalism school you call that "burying the lead."
Mercifully, it ended there. Not for the victims, of course, who will need a long time to get over all this.