Juan Vaquero had been worried about his neighbor’s treatment of her grandson, but he was still taken aback when he heard cries for assistance.
Vaquero had been struggling with his conscience as he had observed that his landlady/neighbor, Esmeralda Lira, and her neighbor, Jose Balderas, were mistreating Lira’s grandchild, whom they had been caring for.
Despite his concerns, Vaquero was apprehensive about speaking up as he feared losing his apartment. Rather, he held out hope that the grandmother and her boyfriend would improve their treatment of the boy. Furthermore, he was uncertain whether the child was being abused as although they frequently shouted at him, he had never seen them physically harm him.
At times, the child had requested food from Vaquero, causing him to worry. Nonetheless, he reasoned that the parents were likely just placing the boy on a diet.
However, one day, he was startled by something he heard.
He heard the boy cry out for assistance and upon glancing towards Lira and Balderas’s residence, he observed that it appeared deserted, with no illumination even though it was nighttime.
The man approached the residence for a closer look.
Upon closer inspection, Vaquero realized that the cries were not emanating from the residence as he had initially assumed, but rather from the backyard.
Apprehensively, he cautiously made his way towards the yard, concerned that he may be met with anger from Lira or Balderas for intruding onto their property.
After some time, Vaquero traced the source of the cries to a shed, where he approached the door and attempted to open it, only to discover that it was secured with a lock.
To assess the situation, Vaquero began communicating with the child, wishing that this was simply a misunderstanding and that the boy was unharmed. However, he was appalled when the boy conveyed something that was deeply disturbing.
Recognizing the gravity of the situation, Vaquero initiated recording on his phone.
He engaged in dialogue with the boy, who confirmed that his grandmother had confined him in the shed by locking it.
Subsequently, Vaquero inquired if the boy had any form of bedding or covers, to which the boy replied negatively.
Vaquero then queried the boy about the duration of his confinement in the shed, and the boy disclosed that he had been locked inside since 6 pm, and it was almost 10 pm at that time.
It was then revealed that the boy had not had a meal since the morning.
Vaquero offered to retrieve some food for the boy, but the boy replied that even if he passed it through a crevice in the shed, he wouldn’t be able to consume it since his hands were bound behind him.
Determined to aid the boy, Vaquero promised to assist, and contacted Child Protective Services, providing an account of the situation.
Subsequently, law enforcement officers arrived, and upon entering the shed, were appalled by what they witnessed. The child’s hands were bound as he had stated, and the shed was infested with vermin and insects.
The authorities transported the child to the police station and provided him with nourishment.
Upon Lira and Balderas’ return, they were met by a law enforcement officer who arrested them and escorted them to the detention center.
While in custody, the police questioned the grandparents as to why they committed such a heinous act, but all they could offer was that the boy had taken food without permission.
Vaquero is now facing the challenge of finding a new place to live since his former landlady and her boyfriend were arrested for the crime.
Despite having to find a new place to live, Vaquero believes that the welfare of the child is more important and worth the sacrifice.