SOUTH SALT LAKE -- Police in South Salt Lake arrested a man accused of chaining his mentally-challenged nephew to a couch. Officers said the man was the boy's primary caregiver.
Police said the man took his nephew to his grandmother's house in South Salt Lake on Wednesday. A maintenance worker, who had been in the apartment a couple of times, called police because he thought something wasn't right.
Officers went to the apartment in the area of 3700 South West Temple on a welfare check. That's when they found the 14-year-old tethered to a couch.
Officers said he had a lightweight metal chain around his ankle. That ankle chain was connected to a 3-foot nylon braided rope.
Police said the teen is severely mentally challenged and cannot talk. They also searched the uncle's home and found evidence of the same kind of treatment.
"The officers visited that address, and at that address there is a room that the boy could be locked up in. They had a similar device at the couch on a chair at that residence," said Gary Keller with the South Salt Lake Police Department.
But a family friend says the boy always ran off. She said he was difficult to control and they tied him up to protect him.
"The grandma is older. She couldn't chase him around, and I think they thought it would be easier if they tied him down. I don't think they realized ... because they loved their kids," the woman, named Sylvia, said.
Police arrested Tai Ngo. They said Ngo is the teen's primary caregiver.
According to a probable cause statement from the jail, Ngo admitted he would chain the boy by his ankle or arms when he had things to do. At times, he would lock his nephew in a small room for extended periods of time.
Police said the teen was also made to wear a diaper.
"It's certainly shocking for us to see this, and we want to find out why this is happening, what's going on here," said Keller.
However, police said the boy was found fully clothed Wednesday, appeared well fed and had no physical signs of injury.
Officers said the teen's grandmother was physically unable to care for him. They said the teen's mother was also not able to care for him, and his father was not in his life.
The teen has a 12-year-old brother who attends school, and there are no signs he was abused. The brothers are now in state custody as the investigation continues.
Police said they want to find out why this was happening and try to get the family some help to care for the teen.