The parents of seven children made an unfortunate decision yesterday when they decided to allow five of their kids–four minors and one adult–to ride in the back of a moving van during a cross-country trip.
David K. Detjen, 41, and Rebecca S. Detjen, 40, were taken into custody after an anonymous tip was called in to an Indiana State Police station by a concerned family member, letting them know the group was heading their way from Pennsylvania. The Detjens said they had been down on their luck in recent months and were without a car; the move to California was based on the promise of a job there.
Officials found two children riding in the cab with the adults, and the other five family members were in the back of the van, which was without heat and held the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Also being transported were 18 cats, all locked in crates.
The elder Detjens have been jailed on four charges of neglect, and investigating officers say the parents knew that what they were doing was unwise.
“They were down on their luck for sure,” Sergeant John Bowling said. “They didn’t have a car. This was a last-ditch effort to follow up on a possible job in San Bernardino (in California). But it still was an unwise decision (to allow family members to travel in the cargo area). The dad has told investigators he knew it was a bad idea.”
The family hasn’t commented on the turn of events which led them to pack up and move, but a dragging economy and staggering job loss has weighed heavily on many Americans in recent years. The children are all in the care of Child Protective Services, and the animals have been taken in by Henry County Animal Control.