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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Phoenix Boy Locked in Closet by Parents

Aired June 10, 2003 - 20:09   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know if you heard about this story, but it is just unbelievable. A shocking case of suspected case of child abuse in Phoenix, Arizona. One that even has police surprised at the level of brutality involved.
Now police on Sunday found a 7-year-old boy weighing a scant 36 pounds. The reasons we're showing you a pictures of a closet is because that's where he was found locked inside, covered in his own filth, curled up in a fetal position. His grandmother called police because she was worried.

officials have charged the boy's parents with child abuse. The police say the mother and father claimed they were disciplining the boy because of his attitude. Neighbors say they did hear indications that all was not well inside the home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the night, every time they hit him, and throw him to the wall and told him lie down and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) start crying.'

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Those are some of the neighbors. Joining us now to talk about the investigation, give us the latest is Detective Tony Morales of the Phoenix police department and one of the 7-year-old's neighbors Brandy Day. Appreciate both of you joining us.

Detective Morales, I want to start off with you. Police arrived at the home of this 7-year-old, Isaac, because they had been tipped off by the grandmother, she was worried, she hadn't seen him. What did they find when they got to the apartment?

DET. TONY MORALES, PHOENIX POLICE DEPT.: Well they found the parents in the house and they knew how many kids they were looking for, and immediately became suspicious when the parents starting giving evasive answers. They eventually went to the closet and found this little boy in just horrible conditions on a cold floor, very small closet, locked in there. And just deplorable conditions.

COOPER: Now I understand when one of the officers took out his flashlight to go into the closet, the woman here, Mrs. Loubriel got very upset. Is that right? MORALES: Yes, that was during the time they were questioning about where this other child was at. She saw the officers starting to light up this area with the flash light, and she actually tried to prevent them from doing that.

COOPER: Now, Brandy, you're a neighbor to this house in this community. You heard some neighbors said they had maybe had heard something. Did you ever hear anything, do you ever know anything was going wrong?

BRANDY DAY, NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR OF 7-YEAR-OLD: I didn't hear anything that would alert me to call the police. I did hear, you know, children yelling and screaming but nothing like they were hurt or injured. Or I didn't hear -- I heard, you know, some yelling, but nothing...

COOPER: Had you seen this boy before?

DAY: No, actually, I hadn't.

COOPER: Even though they live in your community? So you've seen some of the kids, but not this particular one?

DAY: Not this particular one. And actually, they do live right next door to me.

COOPER: Unbelievable.

Detective Morales, do you know -- what did the parents end up saying about why they were doing this? We said in the introduction it was some form of discipline. What was that all about?

MORALES: Well this was, according to the parents, their way of disciplining this child. They indicated that this child had some kind of an attitude and this was the punishment that they had come up with between the two of them, locking him in this closet for extended periods of time.

COOPER: Well let's talk about that. Do we know how long a period of time? This boy had not only been locked up this time. And also is it known whether this had happened before?

MORALES: Well, if you can believe the parents, what she told the officers, or what they told the officers was that this started sometime around February. So close to six months this child has been locked in this closet. I don't know that he was ever let out. He was -- he went for days without eating. And when they did feed him, they said that they would at times feed him bread and water only.

COOPER: Brandy, I understand when you saw Mrs. Loubriel around the neighborhood, she always wore the same thing. Was there anything odd about this family that stuck out to you?

DAY: Oh, yes. Most definitely. Anytime my child and I were outside playing in the yard, doing any sort of yardwork or anything like that, it seemed as if the whole family was looking out the blinds at us. And that was anytime we were in the yard. And never would friendly, or made any eye contact, or anything like that. And they'd been there six, seven months now. And never got to speak to them at all.

COOPER: It is just unbelievable. We appreciate both of you joining us, Detective Tony Morales and Brandy Day. It is a puzzle. We appreciate you helping us to try to put the pieces together. Thanks.

MORALES: Thank you.

DAY: Thank you.

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