LONGMONT, Colo. -- A mentally challenged boy from Longmont is in the hospital after nearly starving to death. His parents are facing felony child abuse and neglect charges, according to the Boulder County District Attorney's Office.
In court papers, doctors at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora said they've never seen a case of malnutrition like this.
An arrest warrant affidavit describes what the boy went through inside his parents' mobile home. The DA's office said the affidavits for both parents are identical.
The parents tell detectives the boy consumed only sugary drinks and junk food for more than a decade. In late August, the parents called 911 after the boy lost consciousness.
Neighbors at the mobile home park in the 500 block of 15th Avenue said they had no idea what was happening and rarely saw the boy who was becoming dangerously ill.
"That's messed up," neighbor Saldaeor Ayala said. "I don't even know how [authorities] didn't even find out earlier."
Police arrested the boy's parents, David Lawrence Hall and Vanessa Hall, both 52 years old, on Tuesday. The couple was arrested on two felony complaints each.
They appeared before a judge Wednesday for their bond advisement hearings.
"We did a thorough investigation," Longmont Police Det. Sgt. Matthew Cage said. "We're still conducting more follow-up on [the investigation]."
Doctors tell police the 17-year-old boy, who is legally blind and believed to be autistic, weighed 88 pounds. He was in shock and suffering from severe malnutrition, according to to medical professionals.
A team of veteran doctors told detectives they've never seen vitamin/mineral levels as low as what they found in the boy. One doctor told police the boy's condition was, "consistent with someone who would have been in a concentration camp for several years."
"There's no excuse," said Juan Lara, who works in the neighborhood where the boy lived. "We wouldn't expect something like that. Out of nowhere -- it's just a little bit scary."
The parents told police their son refused to consume anything but Cheez-It, Cheetos, Doritos and up to eight sodas per day. They failed to seek assistance to get the boy the nutrients his body was craving, according to officers. That failure now has police sending a message to the community.
"If you have somebody in distress, use those resources," Cage said. "If you're unsure of what the resources are and you have somebody in distress, by all means -- contact the police department."
Doctors say it will take at least a month of intense medical treatment before the boy can be considered no longer in a life-threatening state. It will likely take six months for the boy to achieve an appropriate weight.
Jail records show Vanessa Hall bonded out on Wednesday. She is due back in court Sept. 20.
David Hall was still behind bars as of late Wednesday. His next court appearance is scheduled for Friday.
Anyone who suspects child abuse and neglect can call the statewide hotline at 800-CO-4-KIDS (800-426-5437). The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
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