BLUE SPRINGS, MO (WDAF) — A Missouri husband and wife accused of forcing their son with cerebral palsy to live in solitude for over a month are facing child neglect charges.
Brendan Luke and his wife, Janine Luke, both 30, are accused of locking their 12-year-old son in a house for five weeks and failing to properly attend to him, according to court records.
Probable cause records from the Blue Springs Police Department indicate the preteen uses a wheelchair. His family would watch him using home security system cameras, but they provided no close supervision for more than a month, according to police reports.
His parents were arrested June 11. The boy has been taken into protective care.
The Lukes told police they kept their son at a house they’ve since vacated because he was violent and prone to outbursts. Police reports show the family tried to make it appear that someone was there with the boy.
WDAF reached out to the Lukes on Wednesday but did not receive a response.
Lori Ross, CEO of Foster Adopt Connect and operator of a child advocacy nonprofit, has fostered more than 400 children, including two with cerebral palsy. She said abuse and neglect are worse for children with mental and physical disabilities than for other kids.
“What they chose to do is absolutely uncalled for,” Ross said of the parents charged. “If a child was to need help with feeding or toileting, that’s something that would need an adult caregiver to be with him at all times. That child would potentially be at risk of dying from complications related to those issues.”
Ross said she’s sympathetic to families who seek assistance for children with disabilities within a complicated matrix of agencies. She said that system was already tough to navigate, and during the COVID-19 era, the network of agencies broke down further.
However, Ross said the alleged actions taken in the Luke case were dangerous.