Child abuse case expanding in Union County

  • Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014 1:22 p.m.

MONROE (AP) — Officials investigating a Union County couple accused of handcuffing a boy to the porch with a dead chicken around his neck are now trying to determine if nearly three dozen children the couple cared for were abused.

Wanda Larson and Dorian Harper provided care for three dozen children over a 12-year period, The Charlotte Observer reported.

Larson and Harper were arrested in November after the boy was found handcuffed to the front porch.

Larson was a child protective services supervisor at the time and was the boy’s legal guardian.

Investigators are seeking the records of the children the couple cared for between 1998 and 2010.

Superior Court Judge Chris Bragg agreed with prosecutors that “based on the allegations of child abuse already disclosed, it is not unreasonable to believe” any of the 36 children may have been victims or witnessed abuse of other children.

Officials removed the boy and four other children the couple had adopted when they were arrested.

Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said Thursday that investigators have interviewed about a dozen of the other children so far. Some were in North Carolina and others were out of state.

Cathey would not talk about what investigators learned.

Some of the children were with the couple less than a week, while others were there for months, District Attorney Trey Robison said.

The couple’s next court appearance is Feb. 4. They are charged with felony charge abuse, maiming and false imprisonment.

Larson was fired by the county after her arrest. Harper was an emergency room nurse at a Monroe hospital and also lost his job.

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