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Authorities: Abused youth was running away from home

March 20, 2012

Law enforcement officials say the 7-year-old child rescued early Sunday morning near a home in the 4900 block of S. Highway 87 was allegedly restrained using a straight jacket before attempting to run away.

In a press release issued Monday, Howard County Sheriff Stan Parker confirmed the boy had told law enforcement officers he was running away from home after having been allegedly restrained in a straight jacket by his parents, who were taken into custody shortly after.

“On Sunday at approximately 1:36 a.m. deputies with the Howard County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched in reference to a small child riding a bike on Highway 87 in the dark,” Parker said. “Upon arrival, deputies spoke to the child, age 7, and he advised he was running away from home.

“Contact was made with family members and they stated the child had been restrained using a straight jacket and they didn’t know how he had gotten out. Upon further investigation, it was determined that the living conditions of the residence were not suitable. Child Protective Services was called and took custody of three children, ages 7, 5 and 2.”

Tamara Ruth Whitt, 26, of 4302.5 S. Highway 87, was arrested by the Howard County Sheriff's Office on charges of abandoning/endangering a child — criminal negligence (two counts).

A second individual, Edgar Dale Whitt, 54, also of 4302.5 S. Highway 87, was charged with two counts of abandoning/endangering a child – criminal negligence.

Parker said during the course of the investigation, a grisly discovery was made.

“As part of the investigation we were trying to determine who the father of the children were,” Parker said. “The family had only moved to Big Spring about two years ago, which was making that somewhat difficult. However, after speaking to them for a while, it was discovered that Edgar Whitt — who is Tamara Whitt's father — had fathered at least one of the children with his daughter. That's when the decision was made to file additional charges against Edgar Whitt.”

Edgar Whitt was later charged with prohibited sexual conduct – incest, a second-degree felony, according to Big Spring Police Department arrest records.

Parker declined to comment on the physical condition of the children at this time or whether there is evidence of physical abuse or molestation.

“I can't comment on that right now, as this is an ongoing investigation,” Parker said. “We're preparing this information to be turned over to the district attorney's office.”

According to officials with the Howard County Detention Center, bond has been set for Edgar Whitt at $5,000 for each count of abandoning/endangering a child — criminal negligence and $15,000 for prohibited sexual conduct – incest, a total of $25,000.

Bond for Tamara Whitt has been set at $5,000 for each count of abandoning/endangering a child — criminal negligence.

Neither had bonded out as of this morning.

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