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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Kids caged in car--Posen, Illinois

POSEN Scrap hauler kept daughters in enclosure while he worked
July 3, 2008
By WILLIAM LEE Southtown Star

Nothing about the outside of Ricardo Gonzalez's rusting navy-blue pickup truck tells there's a homemade jail inside -- where he encaged his two young daughters.

Inside the 1995 Chevrolet S10 truck, Gonzalez placed a wire cage behind the driver and passenger seats to hold the girls, ages 2 and 5, while he drove around as a scrap hauler, Posen police said.

The only exit from the cage was a small place between the two front seats, which had a padlock. (Mary Compton/Southtown Star)

The cries of the two girls attracted a bystander, who called police. (Mary Compton/Southtown Star)

The cries of the two girls from within the cage alerted a bystander, who called police from a Marathon gas station in the 3000 block of 147th Street in Posen about 4:15 p.m. Monday.

Gonzalez, 35, of the 3600 block of 153rd Street in Midlothian, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor child endangerment, and police impounded the truck. Police said they were working with Cook County prosecutors about possibly upgrading to felony charges.

Police said Gonzalez told them he constructed the cage to restrain his daughters while he worked because he didn't have a baby-sitter.

The truck's back window is covered with a large plywood board. Two black-tinted windows hide the interior, where Gonzalez had bolted and welded the cage to the frame of the truck and taped and tied it together.

The only exit from the cage is a small space between the two front seats, which was fashioned with chain-link fencing that was closed with a padlock.

"I wouldn't put my dog in that," Cpl. William Alexander said as he looked over the truck at the Fair Towing lot in Posen.

Inside the cage, a child's safety seat sat unrestrained. The rear seats were covered with pink fleece blankets.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services removed the girls and placed them in foster care on Monday. DCFS had prior contact with the family, having investigated the girls' mother, Yesenia, for neglect in 2006 and having provided "supportive services" for the family last year, DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe said.

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