May 12, 2020 at 2:47 AM EDT – Updated May 12 at 2:47 AM
DALLAS (KTVT/CNN) – The grandmother of a 6-year-old boy and her boyfriend face felony charges after Dallas police found the child confined inside a shed.
Police responded to 53-year-old grandmother Esmeralda Lira’s home late Sunday night after receiving a tip. Lira told them the 6-year-old was with his mother, but a man living in the back of the property pointed them toward the shed, where officers found the boy with his hands tied behind his back.
Lira said it was the first time the victim had been confined in the shed, but her live-in boyfriend, 64-year-old Jose Balderas, accused him of stealing food and said he had been punished for at least two weeks.
The 6-year-old told officers he had been forced to sleep in the shed, and the alleged abuse started around the time he “got out of school for this corona thing.”
Lira and Balderas face felony charges for endangering a child.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services confirms it is investigating. The 6-year-old boy, his 7-year-old sister and 4-year-old brother have been removed from the home and will be placed in foster care.
Texas DFPS says calls to its abuse hotline have decreased in the last couple months because professionals, including doctors, teachers and police officers, may not regularly be seeing children due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We all should be looking out for the children in our community, especially now that they’re not in school,” said Marissa Gonzales with Texas DFPS.
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