VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Volusia County deputies arrested a man and a woman they say neglected one of their children by forcing him to sleep on a porch with no bed.
Deputies said when a 6-year-old boy knocked on a neighbor's door shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday complaining about being cold and hungry, it was obvious that something was wrong.
Deputies said the boy told the neighbor that he was locked out of his house and had been forced to sleep on the porch as punishment.
Concerned for the boy's welfare, the neighbor gave the child a blanket and potato chips and called the Volusia County Sheriff's Office for help, deputies said.
Deputies said the call set off a criminal investigation that resulted in the arrest of 47-year-old John Haley and his 41-year-old wife, Stephanie Haley.
When deputies arrived at the scene, the boy told them that he had been forced to sleep on the back porch for three days, officials said.
He also said that he's fed rice for lunch and dinner every day, and when there's no rice, he's given lettuce to eat, deputies said.
Deputies said the boy told them that when he's not put out on the porch, he's often locked in the garage and only let in the house a couple of times a day to use the bathroom.
Officials said a deputy noted that there was no bed or bedroom furniture of any kind on the screened-in porch. Recent overnight temperatures in Volusia County have dipped into the 50s.
Deputies said they spoke with the couple and, at first, they claimed that he should be asleep in one of the bedrooms.
When deputies informed them that he was at a neighbor's house cold and hungry and complaining about being forced to sleep on the porch, John Haley initially acted shocked at the news.
Deputies said he later admitted that he and his wife make the boy sleep on the porch as punishment for stealing and eating too much. He added that neither of them thought that the punishment was in any way neglectful.
Deputies arrested the couple and took them to the Volusia County Branch Jail in Daytona Beach for processing.
The Florida Department of Children and Families also responded to the scene to take custody of the six other children at the house -- three boys and three girls, ranging in age from 1 to 15 years old.
The DCF was expected to place the children with a relative.