NEW CASTLE, Ind. (WISH) - Police in New Castle say that seven children were found in a box truck late Wednesday night.
Indiana State Police at the Pendleton Post received information from a caller saying their relatives had left western Pennsylvania in a rented moving truck carrying their seven children, with at least five of them riding in the back storage area. The family said they were moving from Pennsylvania to California where they had family, police said, after the father lost his job and the family lost their home.
Troopers were looking for the truck on Interstate 70 and located it pulling into a Flying J truck stop at the New Castle exit just before 10 p.m. Wednesday
Officers approached the husband and wife, who had two small children in the front of the truck with them.
Troopers then found five kids ranging in age from 9 to 18 riding in the back of the truck, which was unheated. Temperatures overnight fell into the 20s. Police also found 18 cats riding in the truck with the children. They'd been on the road for about seven hours at that point.
"They were wearing jackets, they had sleeping bags, but they had no way to communicate with the parents in the front of the truck," said John Bowling, Indiana State Police trooper.
David K. Detjen, 41, and his wife Rebecca S. Detjen, 40, were arrested and are being held Thursday at the Henry County Jail on $30,000 bond each.
"They knew it wasn't right, but I think they just did the best with what they had at that time. Of course, it's not good enough; they're going to jail," Bowling said.
The children were turned over to Child Protective Services. Henry County Animal Control obtained the cats.
"The family will first have the opportunity to come and reclaim them. After the five day hold we will make them available to the public," said shelter worker Linda Bir-Conn.
The belongings and truck were impounded.
The parents will face formal charges. The Henry County Prosecutor says each parent will face one count of neglect of a dependent.
An initial court appearance is set for Friday in Henry County.
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