Parents charged after starving 7-year-old tried to sell his teddy bear so he could buy food

Rare.us — Ohio parents, Tammy and Michael Bethel, have each been charged with five counts of child endangerment after their 7-year-old son was found outside a drug store trying to sell his teddy bear so that he could buy food.

According to WLWT5, Officer Steven Dunham with the Franklin Police Department found the child wandering around a busy area of Franklin, Ohio.

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“It broke my heart,” Dunham said. “He told me he was trying to sell his stuffed animal to get money for food because he hadn’t eaten in several days.”

Officer Dunham then went above and beyond his call of duty and took the child to a local Subway to buy him food. “(We) said a little prayer and ate dinner together,” Dunham said.

After buying the boy food, he took him back to the police department

Upon further investigation of the child’s home and family, the police found that the victim and his four older brothers were living in squalor like conditions. Their home was strewn with garbage and liquor bottles and had a strong cat urine odor.

The child and his older brothers, ages 11, 12, 15 and 17, were removed from the home and are now staying with relatives.

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Although Officer Dunham went above and beyond the call of duty, he doesn’t see it that way. He just sees it as doing his job and that he happened to make a new friend along the way.

“I came back to check on him and he was hiding. He jumped out to scare me when I came back in the building; he got me real good. We) would like to go home at the end of the day feeling like (we’ve) done something positive and, you know, had some kind of positive impact,” Dunham said.

Both parents have pleaded not guilty to the charges and a pre-trial has been set for Sept. 16.

In the meantime, the parents have been ordered to have no contact with their children.