A Bristow, Va., couple is charged with child abuse after their badly-bruised 8-year-old son fled from their home in the middle of the night and sought refuge at a stranger’s home about three blocks away.
Ron Kramer and his wife were watching television when they heard the doorbell ring at 12:45 a.m. Wednesday.
"I opened the door and I asked, 'Can I help you, son?'" Kramer said. "He said, 'I'm lost.' I asked, ‘Where did you come from?’ He said, 'I don't know.'"
As his wife made the boy a sandwich, Kramer called 911. Police and the Kramers noticed many deep, dark bruises on the boy's body.
Police took the boy with them to continue their questioning, and then about 5:30 a.m., 41-year-old Amy Sweeney called police to report that her son was missing. Police then questioned Sweeney and her husband, 39-year-old Matthew Sweeney, and charged both with felony child abuse.
A police spokesman said it appears the physical abuse had gone on for some time.
Kramer said it was troubling to learn of the allegations by police.
"It just floors me,” he said. “I have three children of my own and they now have their own children. We’re very aghast at the thought of someone treating a child like that."
The Sweeneys did not answer their door today. The van in their driveway displays decals showing a family of eight. There is also a "Choose LIfe" sticker and another promoting home schooling.
Neighbors said the family moved into the rental home about a year ago. They said Matthew Sweeney is active duty in the Navy and Amy Sweeney home schools the children. The Sweeneys rarely interacted with others on Ness Hollow Court, neighbors said, and some were unaware the couple even had an 8-year-old boy. Other neighbors told News4 the boy was adopted, originally from Russia.
The boy is now in the custody of Child Protective Services. The younger Sweeney children are also in protective custody for now, although police said none of them appeared to have suffered the same kind of abuse as their brother.
As for Kramer, he's just glad the 8-year-old found his way to his doorstep.
"I was just glad the circumstances provided for us to let him find us," he said. "He was an adorable young man, and we wish him well wherever he is."