Michigan couple charged after adopted son found in cage in 'extremely unsanitary' conditions
PARIS TOWNSHIP, MI — A husband and wife face a felony charge after their adopted 19-year-old son was found inside a cage in "extremely unsanitary" conditions, Huron County Sheriff Kelly Hanson reports.
Karen S. Tolin, 65, and Timothy E. Tolin, 66, occupants of the house where their adopted 19-year-old son was found, were arraigned in Huron County District Court Tuesday, Oct. 28.
Each is charged with a single count of unlawful imprisonment, a 15-year felony, and third-degree vulnerable adult abuse, a high court 2-year misdemeanor.
Both are free on $5,000 or 10 percent bonds, court officials said.
Police responded to investigate a civil dispute about 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20, to a home at 3700 Minden Road south of Priemer, when they discovered the mentally challenged male teen in a caged bed with the door chained shut, the Huron County Sheriff's Department said in a prepared statement.
"The odor was very noticeable as the deputy began to climb the stairs," Hanson said.
Huron County Prosecutor Timothy Rutkowski said the teen was found naked in the cage with feces and urine around him, based on his review of the police report. The 19-year-old has a developmental disability called Angelman syndrome, Rutkowski said, reading from the report.
When the deputy saw the scene, the sheriff's department immediately contacted the Michigan Department of Human Services.
"There was no doubt in the deputy's mind that something was wrong," Hanson said.
"Whether the parents felt they had done anything wrong or not, the individual was being confined under unsanitary conditions," Hanson said. "DHS agreed something was wrong and orchestrated the removal. It just wasn't us making the decision."
He said the sheriff's department is not releasing the police report at this time.
Hanson said he believes a total of nine people lived there; six adopted people including both minors and adults, an acquaintance of one of the adopted people, and the two people who were arrested. The adopted people were all given different placement, he said.
"It's not a situation that's being blown out of proportion," he said. "We were concerned about the health and safety of all involved."
He could not say in what conditions the other people were living.
The call was a rare one for the Huron County Sheriff's Department.
"This is something that police agencies, at least this one, doesn't see hardly at all," he said. "Granted that there were special needs individuals living at this home and what it takes for them, the conditions may not be what people are normally used to, but we enlisted help from DHS."
He added, "They confirmed this is not how this is to be done."
The Tolin couple was arrested Monday, Oct. 27, on the charges authorized by Prosecutor Rutkowski.
Sheriff's investigators returned to the home Tuesday, Oct. 28, to continue investigating.
"This is a circumstance that in my 20 years I've never run across in our community," Rutkowski said. "It's a small farming community. You don't expect something to happen here that is alleged by police in their investigation.
"These people that have special needs rely on being protected by the rest of us," he said. "From what is being alleged, that didn't happen."
The same couple was involved in a 2010 complaint of educational neglect that was resolved with a stipulated order that a third-party attorney visit the home four times for the first year and twice a year in the following years, in some announced visits and some unannounced visits, to check in with the couple, Rutkowski said.
The attorney was required to submit reports to the prosecutor's office and to the school district and DHS, Rutkowski said, adding that his office never received a report.
DHS said its adult protective services office is investigating. Spokesman Bob Wheaton said the home is a private residence, not a licensed care facility, the AP reports.
Paris Township is in Michigan's Thumb, about 90 miles north of Detroit.