It was a heartbreaking case that shocked the nation, a 6-year-old boy found locked in a shed at the back of a house in Dallas with his hands tied behind his back.
It was four hours before the boy was discovered crying, scared and hungry. His grandmother and her boyfriend were arrested.
But now the man who discovered the boy and the call he made that freed him from his horrifying situation speaks out, and with tears in his eyes recalls the moment he realized what had been done to him.
Juan Vaquero was renting a camper from his landlord Esmeralda Lira, 53, and her 64-year-old boyfriend Jose Balderas at the back of their house. He had got to know his landlord’s 6-year-old grandson who often played in the backyard.
But while outside one evening he heard a faint, muffled voice and called out to the shed. The voice of a very scared little boy responded, and he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
He asked the boy how long he’d been there and was told since 6 pm. “But it’s 10 pm now,” Juan responded.
He asked the boy if he’d eaten and he said in the morning to which Juan offered him some Jell-O. The boy said he wouldn’t be able to eat it as his hands were tied behind his back.
It was then that Juan knew he had to call for help and immediately contacted child protection services.
Dallas police officers arrived to find Juan’s landlord, her boyfriend, and two other children inside their house.
They found the boy with his hands tied behind his back with shoelaces in the shed, which was crawling with rats and insects.
The only explanation the people who were supposed to be caring for him had was an accusation, that the boy was stealing food.
According to CBS DFW News police said they believed the boy was probably locked in the shed every night for two weeks.
Esmeralda Lira and Jose Balderas were arrested and now face felony charges for endangering a child.
Meanwhile, Juan will have to find another place to live but doesn’t care because now one 6-year-old boy will never have to endure such cruelty again thanks to him.
The 54-year-old hero who said the boy would often ask him for food and he’d give it to him, told CBS DFW News: “It had to be me who spoke up.”
Who knows what would have happened to this boy if Juan hadn’t stepped in; risking his home to help a little boy who in that moment only had Juan to save him.
I hope justice is served and this couple are never allowed to go near a child again.