A father and stepmother in Sacramento are accused of chaining their son to a kitchen table for two days, releasing him only to sleep, eat and use the restroom.
Sacramento police said they learned of the abuse when the boy escaped the home Friday night and was seen walking down a street chained at his wrists, ankles and neck. He was asking for help.
Police said the father, John Vang, 40, chained his son as punishment for misbehaving and the stepmother, Thong Vue, 34, did nothing to stop the abuse, which allegedly occurred on Winnett Way. They are facing charges of false imprisonment and cruelty to a child.
Neighbors said the family is a member of the Hmong community. One neighbor explained that this type of punishment, while illegal in the U.S., is more common in that community.
“We want to change that, but we can’t. It’s embedded into people’s mind," neighbor Gee Vue said. “The ... laws are different and you discipline your kids differently. That would make other people look at him like he can’t be the father of the house. He can’t tell his own son to behave so that makes him look bad. So he probably did that just to cover his dignity.”
Sacramento police said there is no excuse for what happened to the 13-year-old.
“It’s hard to imagine the terror that must have been going through this young boy’s mind when he was being chained to a table and physically abused by his own father, and it’s also hard to imagine what kind of father would do this to his own son,” police Officer Konrad von Schoech said. “This is one of those cases that shocks the conscience.”
Sacramento court records indicate Vang has a criminal record for domestic violence and weapons violations dating back to the early 1990s. Police are investigating if similar abuses were ongoing.
“I’m surprised. I’m shocked,” said Bernadette Burgess, a neighbor.
“Kind of shocking to know it’s happening right under your nose, and you don’t see it,” neighbor William Johns said.
“Surprising, yeah, very surprising,” neighbor Seng Vang said.
The teen is staying with his biological mother. Police said he is fine.
Police said they are not aware of any other children living in the home. Both Vang and Vue were released on bail from Sacramento County Jail on Saturday.
This article originally appeared on KCRA.com.