They say desperate times call for desperate measures, and I can't imagine a move much more desperate than that which David and Rebecca Detjen recently tried to make. Police arrested them last night in Indiana after they were found driving a rented moving truck packed with the unthinkable.
According to WLFI, there were seven children in it in all, but two were riding in the front cab with their parents. The other five siblings, ranging in age from 9-18, were riding in the back of the truck with no heat (temperatures were in the 20s overnight), no seat belts, and no way to communicate to their parents. Not only that, there were 18 cats back there too, doing all the things cats do.
It was no small journey they were on either. They had left their home in Pennsylvania and were heading to sunny California, for a potential job. So their intention was to travel this way across the entire country. The things that could have happened are unimaginable, and thankfully a tip from a relative alerted police to the situation.
They had been going for about seven hours when police stopped them about 10 p.m. last night at a struck stop in Indiana, and arrested them on preliminary charges of neglect of a dependent. The children were taken into the custody of Child Protective Services, and the cats went to the local Animal Control.
As much as stories of neglect and even people being careless enough to drive a few feet without their child secured in a car seat (Kelsey Grammer, for instance), this story just breaks my heart.
According to reports, they appear to be a couple who were down on their luck, and were trying to improve their lives. They had no car, and while they surely knew this wrong, maybe they viewed it as better than their options at home, better than not being able to provide for their family. It's easy to say we'd NEVER do something like this if we've never been deeply desperate, but the truth is none of us really knows what we'd do until we're there.
They definitely deserved to be arrested; I don't argue that. But I can't help but hope the judge takes it easy on them. I hope that perhaps this somehow gets them the help they so obviously needs.
Do you feel sympathy for these parents?
Image via WFLI