North Carolina boy found handcuffed on front porch with dead chicken around neck

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(CNN) – A social services worker and a hospital nurse were in a North Carolina jail after a deputy spotted their 11-year-old foster child shivering and handcuffed to the front porch — with a dead chicken around his neck, authorities said Saturday.

The boy and four adopted children in the home south of Monroe were taken away Friday and are in the custody of an outside agency, according to Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey.

Dorian Lee Harper and Wanda Sue Larson, both 57, face charges of intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, false imprisonment, and cruelty to animals, officials said.

Larson also faces charges of willful failure to discharge her duty as a public official. She’s a supervisor with the Union County Department of Social Services.

The department “strives to help families support themselves and to provide care and protection for children, the disabled, and the elderly,” says its website.

“We’re very familiar with [Wanda Sue Larson],” Cathey told CNN. “My agents have worked with her often. She handles a lot of the social services cases out here throughout all of Union County. We’re shocked.”

When asked about Larson’s arrest, Brett Vines, public information officer for Union County, told HLN, “We can’t comment as the incident is under investigation.”

HLN has been unable to determine whether Larson and Harper have legal representation.

They are expected to appear in court on Monday morning.

The boy on the porch appears to be the only one of the children to be neglected, said Cathey. “The five children all will undergo medical evaluations to determine if they were mistreated.”

“The 11-year-old, we believe, had been handcuffed there in the morning time,” the sheriff said. “We learned that this particular child is handcuffed pretty regularly. It’s unclear if the other children received similar discipline.”

The discovery came Friday when a Union County deputy responding to a complaint about an animal next door saw the boy on the porch.

The child was secured to the front porch at the ankle by what appeared to be a pair of handcuffs, according to the Union County Sheriff’s Office. A dead chicken hung around his neck.

Moments later, authorities said, Harper appeared on the porch and asked the deputy why he was there.

A child inside the house opened the front door, letting out several large dogs. The dogs chased the deputy back to his patrol car.

When additional officers arrived at the house, authorities searched the residence. They removed five children, ages 8, 9, 11, 13 and 14, from the home.

Harper reportedly lived at the residence with Larson. They had adopted four of the children and were serving as foster parents for the 11-year-old found on the porch.

The four adopted children were found to be in good condition, said sheriff’s Capt. Ronnie Whitaker. Two are siblings. The boy on the porch is not related to the others, officials said.

All of the children are home schooled, authorities said.

Cathey said Harper and Larson claim to be married, but that has not been confirmed.

The house sits on 30 acres, with animals “running around,” including horses, chickens, geese, dogs and llamas. About 95% of the animals appeared to be healthy and well-fed, according to the sheriff.

Authorities have no previous records of calls to the home, according to Whitaker.

The sheriff’s office said Larson was not present at the time of Friday’s incident, but she is accused of being complicit in alleged ongoing mistreatment.

Neighbor Jeanette Wallace, 62, said animals often were loose outside the suspects’ home. “Exotic animals. It wasn’t your normal cat-and-dog-type farm,” she said. “I tried going over there to tell them about their animals, but they never answered.”

“The sheriff’s (deputies) were out here one time before trying to round up their animals,” according to Wallace. “We were all running around chasing after them. It was a sight.”

Harper is being held under a $500,000 secured bond. Larson’s bond is set at $525,000.

Harper is a emergency room nurse at CMC-Union in Monroe, according to spokeswoman Teri Mitchell Porter. He has been placed on administrative leave, she said.

Monroe is approximately 25 miles southeast of Charlotte.


  • jodi reynolds

    Why are there just pictures of outside the house? i mean yeah it looks nasty bit i want to know these sorry folks when i see them. i want everybody to know them when they see them. #mugshotsplease

  • Blind to soon

    What the hell difference would it make if the (a) child killed the chicken? Look at this place human beings don’t live like this, one can only Imagine what the inside looks like, that does not matter at this point, it shows the need for inspecting and unannounced visits to the homes of all foster families, these visits should not from the city our county departments, there is a great need for independent inspectors. This speaks to the inferior quality of personnel by social service agencies, If they can do this, how many families on their watch can do this and worse, Many don’t want to adopt or care for foster children because the sanctity of home are over scrutinized giving children more power than the care giver. Who did these children have to go to, when the health and home are provided by the same authorities who neglected them, both these women have to be mental. I home they do quality time jail.

  • bunnychi75 (@bunnychi75)

    The messed up thing about it to me is that they probably had that dead chicken around his neck in hopes to lure a wild animal to him, given the fact they’re in the deep woods. A coyote or something could’ve came up and mauled that poor kid for the chicken! Sick b*****ds! And they more than likely adopted those kids to get money from the state, too; the social worker of the two had to have known that! Slimy, slimy people! >:(

  • Jessikah Koren

    This is very disturbing. I am a mother of just 1 and i would love to have more kids. These people were given the opportunity of a lifetime to try and give these children a great future. But instead they have scarred them for life. The social worker who said ok to this home as a foster care home needs to be fired. They are supposed to check on the kids! What in Gods name was she/he doing! This is not a suitable home! Its insane! And whoever knows these people are just as bad. How can you see someone you know have children and them living like this? Someone should have called authorities a long time ago. May God see fit how to judge them and make them pay for their actions.

  • LadyStClaire

    Think about it, WHO IS GOING TO SUSPECT A SOCIAL WORKER OF NEGLECT AND ABUSE OF A CHILD? THIS IS HOW THEY WERE ABLE TO SKIP THROUGH THE LOOP, OF NOT HAVING “ANY” INSPECTIONS AT ALL. these people lived like animals themselves and, were allowed to bring kids into this mess. SMDH

    • M. L. Fox

      Please do not call this person a Social Worker! Social Workers are educated in Social Work and have a license. This person has neither.

  • Bambi M. Douglas

    What concerns me is the fact that this women was in a position with social services that gave her the authority/power to make judgment calls pertaining to other families cases…. Thats scary~

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