Boy locked in coffin at Pennsylvania home, police seek parents

Reuters News
|
Posted: Oct 04, 2011 2:03 PM
Boy locked in coffin at Pennsylvania home, police seek parents

By Daniel Lovering

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Police were searching on Tuesday for a couple accused of punishing their 7-year-old son by forcing him to wear a diaper and locking him in a coffin in the basement of their Pennsylvania home.

Neighbors called police after they heard the boy crying from inside the house in Scranton on September 26, said police Detective Captain Al Leoncini.

Police found the boy sitting in a doorway of the basement, upset and wearing a diaper, he said. The boy told police he was crying because he was hungry.

After coming home from school, the boy said his stepfather had locked him in a coffin held shut by a chair in the basement. He said he was eventually able to escape by pushing it open.

In the past, his stepfather had used duct tape to keep the coffin shut, the boy said, according to court documents.

He said his mother and stepfather often punished him by putting him in the basement, where she told him ghosts lived, the documents said. They rattled chains to scare him and sometimes duct-taped him to a chair, he said.

The child told police he had to wear a diaper because there was no working bathroom in the basement, where sometimes he was locked for an entire day, the documents said.

The boy was placed with a children's welfare agency and police issued warrants this week for Lori Gardner, 26, and Brian Sleboda, 31, both of Scranton, Leoncini said.

Both have been charged with endangering the welfare of a child and unlawful restraint.

"We're trying to locate the mom and the step-dad to serve these warrants, but at this point we don't know where they're at," Leoncini said.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)