Last week, it was a Santa Ana mom accused of starving one of her nine children, a 4-year-old girl who weighs 18 pounds.
Now it's a Santa Ana mom who allegedly kept one of her three children chained and locked inside their apartment while she went off to work.
But at least Irma Navarro apparently left her 10-year-old son food and video games.
Still, the boy has been taken into protective custody, and his 37-year-old mama faces charges of willful cruelty to a child, according to authorities.
An older sibling was at school and a younger one with a babysitter when the 10-year-old was seen by neighbors hopping around on one leg outside the apartment unit just before noon Thursday, according to Corporal Anthony Bertagna, the Santa Ana Police Department spokesman.
When a neighborhood mom asked the boy what he was doing, he is said to have replied he was heading to a friend's house to be freed from his chains. He was later seen crying next to a tree, where a man had him wait as he went off to get bolt cutters. That's about when police arrived.
Navarro allegedly told officers she could not afford a babysitter for two children, but she was worried the 10-year-old would get into trouble were he not shackled while she was away, especially fearful of the gang activity in her neighborhood.
UPDATE, JULY 22, 2:18 P.M.: Irma Jacobo Navarro, who is being held without bail, was due to be arraigned sometime today on one felony and one misdemeanor count each of child abuse and endangerment.
A janitor and single mother, the 37-year-old is, “by all accounts . . . a good, caring mom,” Santa Ana Police Corporal Anthony Bertagna reportedly told City News Service, while also describing the 10-year-old boy as a “problem child” with a habit of leaving home and not returning until 9 or 9:30 p.m.
The boy “cusses at her, doesn't listen to her, so she's at her wit's end,” Bertagna said of the mother. “She's a good mom. The house is clean; the kids are well-spoken and
well-behaved. But apparently the 10-year-old is becoming a problem child when she goes to work.”
Bertagna understood her motives, but mentioned, “unfortunately, as sympathetic as we are to a discipline problem, the answer is not to commit a criminal act.” Being padlocked to a 6-foot-long aluminum chain wrapped four or five times around one's ankles, as the child was, could have ended in tragedy had there been, say, an apartment fire, the police spokesman noted.
The boy has joined his other siblings in protective custody, police said.