Delphi couple charged with neglect after child found locked in room with feces on walls

The booking photos of Heather Mock, left, and Wayne Fender are shown. (Photos Provided/Carroll County Jail)
The booking photos of Heather Mock, left, and Wayne Fender are shown. (Photos Provided/Carroll County Jail)

CARROLL COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Two Delphi parents are charged with neglect after investigators say they found the couple’s 5-year-old child locked in a room with feces on the walls in December of 2013. News 18 spoke with one woman who says she lived with the couple and their two children.

Donna Pulous said the couple should not have been arrested.

Pulous took care of Wayne Fender and his girlfriend Heather Mock. She says they weren’t neglecting their child.

Both Fender and Mock are in jail on charges of neglect of a dependent resulting in bodily injury and neglect of a dependent deprived of necessary support.

According to court documents, a person working on the furnace called police to report the parents.

When police arrived, they found a 5-year-old boy alone on the couch, locked in a room, with what appeared to be feces smeared on the on the walls and window.

However, Pulous said it was Little Debbie snack cakes mixed with Ovaltine — a chocolate malted milk powder — that the boy put on the walls for fun.

According to the probable cause affidavit, the family case manager and the Department of Child Services supervisor found the 5-year-old could not talk and ruled he had the speech level of a 15-month-old child. They also advised he was unable to use the bathroom himself, eat with silverware or drink from a cup — saying he was functioning at a 2-year-old level.

The two examiners said the boy was locked in his room most times and even when the door was left open, he would not come out. They determined the boy was “severely developmentally delayed.”

Pulous claims what police found weren’t signs of neglect, but rather genetics.

“Fender has Asperger’s and the little boy has so many traits of it,” she said. “… Literally, we could sit with a list and I could tell you every single trait he has.”

But after the boy was removed from the home, a doctor from Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis reported the child was not diagnosed with autism.

Court documents state, prior to police intervening, Mock admitted the boy had only been to the doctor one time since he was born. The child was taken to the Carroll County Health Clinic for an assessment that determined “the parents were unable and did not have the ability to meet [the boy’s] medical and environmental needs.”

Also, at the time he was removed, the boy’s upper front teeth were so severely decayed and jagged that he will need a root canal.

Pulous admitted the boy needed to go to the dentist. She said she tried convincing Mock to take him; but because Pulous did not have custody, she did not win the argument.

Pulous says police did not take pictures or do a thorough investigation. She thinks a lawsuit between Fender and some members of DCS and the state inspired the charges.

“It’s just interesting about how this is coming about now,” said Pulous. “It’s highly questionable.”

The Carroll County prosecutor would not comment on the pending case, but we are still working to get a response from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, which conducted the investigation.

Judge Benjamin Diener, whose wife was involved in Fender’s lawsuit, has recused himself from the case and special judges have been assigned.

Pulous misses the boy, who is now 8 years old. She hasn’t seen him since this time last year.

“I’m trying, right now, to see if I can get custody of him,” said Pulous.

According to court documents, Fender told police Pulous was the primary caretaker of the boy up until 2 years of age. At that time, he could recite his ABCs and recognize colors. But Fender said when they moved to Indiana, Mock started protesting against Pulous educating and providing care for the child. Fender admitted to authorities that’s when the boy started to regress and it was a “turning point” in his behavior.

Documents said since the boy was placed in a supportive home, he has developed a number of skills and continues to change rapidly.

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