UNION COUNTY, N.C. -- The mother of an 11-year-old boy found handcuffed to a porch with a dead chicken tied to his neck says she feared her son was being mistreated by a DSS employee, who doubles as the boy's legal guardian. She says she reported her concerns, but the complaints fell on deaf ears.
Child Protective Services Supervisor Wanda Sue Larson and her boyfriend Dorian Harper, both 57, are charged with child abuse, false imprisonment and cruelty to animals after a deputy found the boy Friday at a home on Austin Road.
"I always thought my son was too skinny," the 11-year-old boy's mother said Tuesday during a phone interview. She does not want to be identified. She says her son always complained about being hungry and even went to a neighbor's house begging for food.
The mother says the answer she got from Larson is her son has a fast metabolism.
The mother says other concerns bothered the brother too, including why her son always seemed to smell like animal urine and didn't want to talk about his care inside Larson's house.
She says marks on her son's body were chalked up as an 11-year-old boy being an 11-year-old boy.
"I took her word as a social worker. I had respect for her," she said.
That's why she says she didn't question the answers much. Part of it was due to Larson's job title.
The 11-year-old boy's mother isn't the only one to complain.
The mother of an 8 and 9 year old who were also under Larson and Harper's care as guardians says her kids were treated well, but she kept noticing problems with the 11-year-old and told DSS.
That mother, who also doesn't want to be identified, says the response she got from DSS was continual reporting could jeopardize her visitation.
Both parents found out about Larson and Harper's arrest on abuse allegations when their pictures appeared on the news.
"What I feel is everybody was trustworthy of her and just seemed like a genuine person, so we wouldn't even think about this," the 11 year old's mother said.
She says her son has some issues including ADHD and depression.
Another person who previously lived under Larson and Harper's care at the same house says the handcuffing and dead chicken placed around the boy's neck could have been some sort of punishment for the boy harming animals, possibly as a way to shame him into not doing it again.
The boy's mother says if that is the reason, someone should have known better and not handcuffed an 11 year old.