6-year-old boy lives locked up in shed with rats & insects after grandmother kicks him out of the house amid ‘the corona thing’ [UPDATE]

A 6-year-old Texas boy had to live with rats and insects for weeks after his grandmother locked him up in an outdoor shed and refused to let him inside her home, according to an arrest affidavit.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Texas authorities arrived at a Dallas home on Saturday at around 11 p.m., off of Coston Drive, and found a young boy in a shed with his hands tied behind his back.

Initially, authorities were responding to a tip about three children tied up without food. The children’s grandmother, Esmeralda Lira, 53, allowed the officers inside the home, where they spotted two children asleep in a bedroom. They were not tied up.

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Officers searched for the third child but couldn’t find him until a neighbor pointed them toward the shed. Lira allegedly refused to unlock the shed door, but eventually handed over the key to a padlock once the officers heard the child’s voice coming from inside the shed.

According to an arrest warrant obtained by ABC 8, when the officers opened the shed door, they saw a small boy “standing alone in the pitch-black shed in a blue storage bin with his hands tied behind his back with shoelaces.”

When the responding officers spoke to the boy, he told them his grandmother started abusing him when he “got out of school for this corona thing,” according to arrest affidavit.

CBS DFW arrested Lira, and her boyfriend, Jose Balderas, 66, and charged them with felony child endangerment.

During a forensic interview, the child told detectives that he was forced to stay tied up inside a shed whenever Lira left home. He added that his grandmother told him that he was a “bad” child and sprayed him with water outside to bathe him.

When he wasn’t tied up in the shed, Lira allegedly would not allow the boy inside the home and left him in the backyard all day. The child said that he would get locked up at around 10:30 p.m. each night, then let out of the shed in the morning. He was given a plastic bag for when he needed to use the restroom.

Amid fighting off rats and insects in the shed, the boy said his grandmother would kick him and pull his ears.

When authorities questioned Balderas, he reportedly said that he knew that Lira was locking the child in the shed and didn’t agree with it. However, authorities alleged that he did nothing to stop the abuse.

When detectives interviewed Lira, she claimed that it was the first time she left her grandson in the shed. Balderas said Lira had been putting the child in the shed for at least two weeks.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is currently investigating. The boy’s siblings, including a 7-year-old sister and 4-year-old brother, were removed from the home. They’ll be placed in foster care, according to officials.

Both suspects are behind bars on bond amounts of $100,000 each. Court records indicate they’re both Mexican citizens and were living in the U.S. illegally. Immigration holds have been placed on both Lira and Balderas.

Meanwhile, experts are urging the public to remain alert and report any suspicious behavior of child abuse or neglect. Child abuse report rates have decreased, according to officials, since school teachers, nurses, and other professionals haven’t been reporting abuse during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Statewide, we’re down about 50% on referrals,” Lynn Davis, President & CEO of the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, told CBS DFW. “But, we also know that the people that generally make the reports are your daycare centers and your schools, and your after school programs.”

“Just keep your eye out, if you’re at the grocery store, or if walking in your neighborhood, and you see something suspicious, or something that just makes your gut not feel well, make a report. If you’re wrong, that’s okay, too. At least it was investigated and we know that child is safe. If you’re right, you’re perhaps saving that child’s life.”​

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[Feature Photo: Pixabay]