WJTV News Channel 12 - Indictment details alleged abuse of handcuffed boy

Indictment details alleged abuse of handcuffed boy

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MONROE, N.C. -

A Union County couple has been indicted after an 11-year-old boy was found handcuffed to a porch with a dead chicken tied to his neck last month.

The indictment against Wanda Sue Larson and Dorian Harper spells out some of the abuse that investigators say occurred in their home between August and November. The couple had guardianship of the boy.

Larson was a supervisor with the local Department of Social Services, and Harper was an emergency room nurse. Both have been fired.

The 21-count indictment said the boy also had been chained to a piece of railroad track in his room and once broke his wrist trying to escape. And the indictment said Harper cut the boy's face with a knife and used an electric wire to burn his face.

Larson and Harper, both 57 and from Monroe, were arrested last month after a Union County sheriff's deputy found the boy on the porch.

She was being held on $525,000 bond, and Harper remained jailed on $500,000 bond.

Telephone messages left for the couple's attorneys were not immediately returned Tuesday.

The indictments, which were handed up late Monday afternoon, are the latest development in a case that has shocked the community about 25 miles east of Charlotte.

The North Carolina Division of Social Services has agreed to Union County's request to review how employees handle adoptions, foster care and child protection.

But child advocacy groups say that's not enough. Jeff Gerber, founder of the Justice for All Coalition, said he would like an outside group such as the attorney general's office to investigate.

He said his organization has received complaints for years from residents about problems with the county DSS investigating child abuse cases.

"We know there's more going on. What happened here is very disturbing. She was a supervisor. All the cases she handled should be reviewed," he said.

Investigators in Union County interviewed the boy as well as the four other children removed from the home. Sheriff Eddie Cathey wouldn't reveal what the children said.

But the children are now in the custody of the Davidson County Division of Social Services.

The indictment includes several counts of felony child abuse, assault with a deadly weapon and maiming. The couple also was indicted for cruelty to animals — they're accused of not adequately feeding their dog. In one count, Larson was charged with willful failure to discharge duties for "failing to report child abuse" and "failing to provide aid and protection to an abused child."

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