SALT LAKE CITY - A 6-year-old Utah boy found chained to a bed while his father was at work probably was shackled like that each of the past 10 days since the school year ended, authorities said Wednesday.
Logan City Police Chief Gary Jensen said investigators believe the boy's father chained him to the bed post every day when he left for work, unchaining him when he got home.
The boy had some water and snacks and just enough slack to reach the bathroom, Jensen said. The heavy, tow or logging-style chain was attached to the boy's ankle, Jensen said.
The 29-year-old father was booked into Cache County Jail on four counts of child abuse. The Associated Press is not naming the man to avoid identifying the child.
Police said the boy appeared to be relatively good physical health. He is with child welfare services and being evaluated. The agency is looking for the boy's biological mother to see if she is fit to care for the boy, Jensen said.
Authorities also are investigating whether the father's live-in girlfriend knew about what was going on, Jensen said. She and her children lived with the father in the house. She has not been arrested or charged.
Neighbor Ike Buckley told KUTV there were three other children living in the house, including twin 8-year-old girls and a boy about 10 years old. Buckley said the children appeared to be in good shape.
The startling discovery came in a middle-class neighborhood in Logan, a city of about 49,000 people 80 miles north of Salt Lake City.
Police received an anonymous tip about the abuse and found the boy alone in the house after they climbed in through a window, Jensen said. The house was well-kept and clean, he said.
"I can't imagine somebody chaining a child up like an animal," Jensen said. "It's difficult thing to wrap your head around."
Police don't know much yet about the father, the police chief said, leaving questions about where he worked, why he couldn't find other arrangements for the boy and whether he had a history of child abuse.
Online state court records show the father was convicted of felony forgery and theft in 2009. He was arrested in 2011 when he broke the terms of his probation.
He is being held in Cache County Jail on $7,800 bond. He doesn't appear to have an attorney yet, and no date for an initial court appearance has been set.