Tuesday, September 29, 2009

60 Pound Teen Found In Camper

ST. BERNARD, La. -- A 14-year-old boy who weighed only 60 pounds and who hadn’t been in school or seen a doctor in four years was removed from his home and his father was arrested by St. Bernard Parish deputies Wednesday.

St. Bernard Sheriff's Office

Daniel Ballard

Captain Steve Cannizaro said the boy was discovered when a constable went to serve an eviction notice to Daniel Ballard, 30, at his RV home.

Constable Tony Guerra called the Sheriff’s Office after seeing the young man, obviously malnourished and with an untreated leg injury that appeared to be a swollen, who had an infected right foot.

Guerra said the young man was also living in deplorable conditions.

“I could see inside the place and it was horrible,’’ Guerra recalled. “I could see he was limping.

“I asked the father why he (the son) wasn’t in school and he said he was home-schooling him. I knew that wasn’t true.’’

Cannizaro said the father said the boy’s injured leg was the result of a speaker that fell on him as they were moving it, but that the boy didn’t want to go to the doctor.

Cannizaro said deputies found out the boy hadn’t been to school or seen a doctor in the four years the father has had him in the New Orleans area. The young man apparently had also injured his arm a few months ago and didn’t receive medical attention.

Ballard is being held in the St. Bernard Parish prison. Cannizaro said the two had been living in the parish for just over a month after having lived in other parishes.

If convicted of cruelty of a juvenile, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

Detectives said Ballard couldn’t answer basic questions, such as when the boy had last attended school and if there was a copy of his birth certificate.

"Instinctively, the detectives knew something was wrong, something was amiss there," said Col. John Doran, chief of detectives at the Sheriff's Office.

The teen, who is being treated for his foot and arm injuries, is in the custody of the Department of Social Services.

Cannizaro said neither the young man nor Ballard has given them much information, but they believe the boy has been living with him since shortly before Katrina struck.

No birth certificate for the boy or any legal custody documents have been found. According to Doran, the boy lived with Ballard and his mother in Ohio before 2002. Ballard then moved to the New Orleans area, and the mother moved to Arizona with the boy and his sister.

In summer 2005, the mother, whose name was not released, put the boy on a plane to New Orleans to be with Ballard. Since then, Pohlmann said, the mother has tried on and off to locate the boy but has been unable to track him down.

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