A couple, arrested Wednesday after Lawrence, KS, police found two bound children in a Walmart parking lot, were in court Thursday on charges of child abuse and endangerment.
It's a bizarre crime, and the prosecutor still has no idea why the couple would allegedly tie up their own children in a busy Walmart parking lot.
Adolfo Gomez, 52, and a few minutes later his wife, Deborah Gomez, 43, made their first court appearance through a video connection from the Douglas County Jail. The couple was charged with two counts each of child abuse and five counts of child endangerment.
"I don't recall a similar set of circumstances where you have the aspect of the parking lot and people from out of town. The allegations are that they were there a couple of days so that makes it both unusual and usual. I'll just let the reported facts speak for themselves," Assistant District Attorney Jim McCabria said.
The couple was arrested Wednesday morning after a customer noticed a child with his hands bound behind his back in the Walmart parking lot in Lawrence. The child was outside of the family's broken down Suburban.
When officers arrived, they discovered the 5-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl were actually tied up and blindfolded.
Police said their father, Adolfo Gomez, was combative with officers and had to be tased, leading to his obstruction charge.
The DA said the good Samaritan who called 911 deserves a lot of credit.
"The fact that a member of the public brought it to the attention of police is something we appreciate. It reminds people to always be vigilant. I think, in this modern age, you can go about your business not paying attention to what's going on around you, but it's critical (that you do)," McCabria said.
Investigators said the family is from North Lake, IL, and were headed to Arizona, to Deborah Gomez's sister's home, when their SUV broke down. Police suspect they had been camped out in the parking lot since Monday.
KCTV5's sister station in Illinois talked to neighbors who said the family was renting a home and moved out last week, telling everyone they were leaving to find work. The neighbors are shocked to learn their children were allegedly being treated in such an inhuman way.
"It's crazy, something like this blows your mind," neighbor Joe Rossi said.
"To think they were blindfolded and tied. If they couldn't take care of the kids, there are 100 places where they could have dropped them off," neighbor Daniel Britton said.
There were three other children found in the Suburban. It took police an hour to convince them to unlock the SUV and come out.
Right now, all five children are safe in state custody.
The Gomez couple is behind bars, held on $50,000 bond each. Their next court date is Thursday, June 21.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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