31-year-old Florence Pollard and her boyfriend, 29-year-old Brian Craig of Blackwood, N.J., are behind bars, charged with endangering the welfare of a child and criminal restraint.
Police say the couple kept Pollard's 10-year-old son chained to a radiator pipe by the ankle in his mother's bedroom for the past two weeks inside the family's home in the 2700 block of Cramer, where the boy lived along with 5 siblings.
Surveillance video obtained by Action News shows the 10-year-boy running for his life Monday afternoon after escaping from his home.
A few minutes later, a neighbor who had been summoned by the boy's mother to catch the child, went after him not knowing why police say he was trying to escape.
"So I went to grab him. The kid gave me kind of a difficult time, so I just held him until the police officers came. He was crying, he was telling me, but I've seen kids lie. I didn't know if he was telling the truth, so I was like, the best thing I can do is call the cops," said neighbor Samuel Alamo.
Alamo says he doesn't personally know Pollard or Brian Craig or their 6 kids. Craig is the biological father of only one of the children, a 7 month old.
Alamo and other neighbors had no idea of the horrors allegedly going on inside the blue house in the 2700 block of Cramer.
"She had a lot of kids. So I just thought it was a regular kid trying to run away from home. Kids do crazy things. All he kept telling me was, 'I don't want to go back home. They don't feed me. They don't give me anything.'" Alamo said. "So I just called the cops."
"When we located the child, the child told us a grim story of being bound by chains to a radiator," said Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson.
The boy told police he was forced to sleep uncovered on the bare floor during the two weeks he was chained to the pipe.
At times his hands were bound with plastic zip ties. He appeared malnourished.
Police returned to the home with a search warrant, and what they found confirmed the 10-year-old's story.
"We saw the chains and the locks that were still positioned around the radiator, ready for his return or for when we found him," said Thomson. "We also found evidence of the zip ties, the plastic zip ties used to bind his hands together as well."
Chief Thomson said he is grateful the boy was able to escape and find help, avoiding an outcome much worse.
"I am a father first and foremost," he said. "I have a 10-year-old at home as well. It's what makes you lose sleep at night when you think of things like this happening to our most innocent and vulnerable people in society, which is our children."
Earlier Tuesday Action News spoke with Pollard's sister, Shannon, who said the boy's father, Michael Pollard, died 5 years ago.
Shannon Pollard said she is not surprised about what the mother is accused of doing.
"I'm not shocked, because I recall an incident when he was younger that she used to make him sleep on the bed with no clothes on and leave him locked up in the room. And I told her I didn't like that before. 'Don't do that to them. They don't deserve that,'" said Pollard.
Bail for Pollard and Craig has been set at $50,000 each. The children are now in the care of state authorities.