Mental health professionals are speaking out against a family accused of chaining up a developmentally disabled man inside a home in Edmond.
The man was found tied up and locked inside the home, unable to get out. A neighbor spotted the man when she went to return the homeowner's dog, then called police. Thursday, police said the man was taken to the hospital.
When police arrived at the house on the 900 block of Swan Lake Court, they found a cable with a padlock, which they say was used to keep the man from getting out of the house. Neighbors said they used to see him out more often, but have not see the man in at least a week.
"He walks around the neighborhood and does no harm," said Anita Babbitt, who lives just down the street.
Edmond Police Officer James Hamm also said the man was known by patrol officers in the area who would be called out to check on him periodically and take him back to the house he lives in.
Police said it was unclear who actually tied the man up or exactly how long he was being kept like that, but the homeowner did not even have a key to unlock him.
"Obviously he couldn't leave in the event of an emergency of a fire, of a medical emergency, if a tornado was coming, or whatever the case might have been," explained Hamm.
Multiple professionals who work with developmentally disabled people said the family most likely tied the man up out of desperation to keep him safe and inside the home.
"It's certainly not the choice you or I would have to do with our relatives," said Ann Lee with the Department of Human Services. "But I look at that family and I'm thinking, if I had a son or husband or whoever, that had continually run off, you might feel you didn't have any choice."
EARC is an organization in Edmond that helps place developmentally disabled individuals into jobs. Bonnie Wells, who works at the agency, said there were better options for the family but they probably didn't even know to what extent they could help.
"What family members don't realize it they're not doing any favors by not getting them involved in some other program and transitioning them," Wells said.
Help for developmentally disabled people in Oklahoma is not easy because there are 6,500 people on a waiting list to receive services. Wells says that is due at least in part to cuts in state funding.