Maybe it’s mean to call obviously desperate parents “crazy,” but I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. If they aren’t crazy, I have no idea what would explain owning 18 cats and attempting to travel across the country with children shoved into the back of a moving van. That is some serious parental neglect.
Two parents, David K. Detjen, 41, and his wife Rebecca S. Detjen, 40, were attempting to relocate from Pennsylvania to California. They had lost their jobs and home, so presumably they couldn’t afford safe travelling accommodations for their seven children and 18 cats. They opted to shove five of their children and all 18 cats into the back of a moving van amongst all of their earthly possessions. Two of the kids got to ride up front with mom and dad.
Indiana State Police recieved a call from a relative of the couple who reported that the husband and wife were travelling with at least five kids loaded into the back storage area of a moving van. Local news reports:
Troopers then found five kids ranging in age from 9 to 18 riding in the back of the truck, which was unheated. Temperatures overnight fell into the 20s. Police also found 18 cats riding in the truck with the children. They’d been on the road for about seven hours at that point.
“They were wearing jackets, they had sleeping bags, but they had no way to communicate with the parents in the front of the truck,” said John Bowling, Indiana State Police trooper.
Clearly this whole situation is awful – my heart is not made of stone. Of course I feel for parents who are so desperate for better living conditions that they resort to a measure such as this. I just can’t get past some details of the story. Why wouldn’t one of the parents sacrifice their seat in the heated cabin for one of their children? Instead of paying for all of that gas, why not opt to leave some stuff behind and spend the money transporting your children safely on a bus? And oh my god, the cats. They obviously can’t afford that many cats. I have to admit the photo of the back of the truck also makes me a little irate.
The couple was arrested and charged with four counts of neglect of a dependent. They are being held on $30,000 bond each. The children were turned over to Child Protective Services, the cats were turned over to animal control, and the belongings and truck were impounded. The whole situation is seriously effed up and depressing. But I’m sorry, that type of gross parental neglect cannot go unpunished. Child Protective Services exists to protect children from parents who exercise this kind of judgement.