U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Benjamin Whitten, 33, and his live-in girlfriend Jeryn Johnson, 25, are charged with torture after Whitten’s five-year-old son was discovered with severe injuries and living in filth among 15 animals, reports KGTV.
The police and fire departments in Murrieta, Calif. discovered the boy when they responded to a call for medical aid. The boy was airlifted to a San Diego County hospital, where he currently remains in “grave condition.” The injuries, determined to be caused by Whitten and Johnson, were unspecified beyond this. The San Diego Tribune says that the couple may face a murder charge should he die from his injuries.
The home was said to be in “extremely unsanitary” conditions. Animal control removed “11 dogs, four cats, and two fish.”
“I didn’t even know there was a child who lived in the house,” neighbor Kristine Hendrickson told KCAL 9. “Did not know. We’ve lived here for 21 years.”
The boy reportedly hadn’t been seen since Christmas of last year.