Child found with dead chicken around neck: Foster parents ask for attorneys during court appearance

The foster parents of an 11-year-old boy found last week with his ankle handcuffed to a porch post and a dead chicken tied around his neck asked a North Carolina judge Monday for court-appointed attorneys to represent them.

Monday's hearing was the first court appearance in this case for Wanda Sue Larson, a supervisor with the Union County Department of Social Services, and Dorian Lee Harper, an emergency room nurse at CMC-Union in Monroe.

Larson and Harper were arrested Friday and charged with intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, false imprisonment and cruelty to animals. Larson also faces charges of willful failure to discharge her duty as a public official.

Both Harper and Larson stood quietly in court during Monday's hearing.

Harper's bond is set at $500,000, and Larson's is $525,000. They have not posted bond and remain in the custody of the Union County Sheriff's Department.

The 11-year-old foster child -- who was found on Harper and Larson's front porch -- and four adopted children, ages 8, 9, 13 and 14, were removed from the couple's home last week because of the disturbing living conditions inside. A sheriff's deputy discovered the boy on the porch when responding to an animal complaint at a neighbor's house. The five children are now in the custody of an outside agency.

"It was filthy, feces on the floor, holes in the wall," Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said. "The bathroom, you could see from outside of the hall into the bathroom. Sink was trashed. No running water."

CNN's Nick Valencia, who visited the house, reported that the property -- which sits on 30 acres south of Monroe, North Carolina -- had piles of garbage and abandoned and rusted-out vehicles in the yard. He also said the area smelled overwhelmingly of urine and feces.

The aunt of three of the children removed from the home, including the 11-year-old foster child, told CNN Monday about how the children were severely punished.

"If you came to the table late you were not allowed but a half of your plate of food. Then you do not get the next meal. If you do not do your chores or listen to her then you do not get your meals that day. If you do not finish your school work on time then you are therefore not allowed to leave your room, and they were put inside their room and chained in there," Cindy Robbins said.

Cathey said there was a room where the 11-year-old was cuffed overnight to a 3-foot piece of railroad. He also said four of the children, including the 11-year-old, slept on blankets in the room.

Neighbor Steve Mills recounted an incident from the summer when one of the children asked him for food.

"The littlest one was running up the street, crying, hollering, he was panicking, come up here (and said), 'Mister, can I have something to eat, I'm starving. Can I come in please?' My wife was going to go in there and make him a sandwich if he's hungry," Mills told CNN.

"We didn't think anything of it because the other two boys came up, saying, 'He's new.' So we just figured he was just getting used to the area and being with a new family and his new siblings and so we thought nothing of it."

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for January 7.

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