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Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Boy in the Shed

     A witness--perhaps a neighbor or a relative--called the Dallas Police Department at 11:00 PM on Friday, May 9, 2020 to request a welfare check at a home on Coston Drive occupied by 53-year-old Esmeralda Lira and her live-in boyfriend, Jose Balderas, 66. The caller reported that three youngsters living in the house, believed to be Lira's grandchildren, were starving.

     Just before midnight, police officers arrived at Lira's house, and while checking on two children asleep in a bedroom, heard noises coming from a padlocked shed behind the house.

     Inside the outbuilding, officers discovered a 6-year-old boy locked into the shed with his hands bound with shoelaces.

     According to the child, his grandmother, Esmeralda Lira, over the past two weeks, had locked him inside the shed from ten at night to eight in the morning. She gave him a plastic bag in case he needed to relieve himself. The boy also had to contend with insects and rats. When Lira put him into the shed without food or water, she reminded him of what a bad boy he had been. She also had the habit of kicking him and pulling his ears.

     Child protection officers removed all three children from the dwelling. Officers arrested Esmeralda Lira, and took Jose Balderas into custody the next day. When questioned by detectives, the boyfriend admitted that he had been aware of the abuse but had done nothing to stop it.

     Both suspects were charged with felony abandoning or endangering a child with imminent danger of bodily injury. At their arraignment hearing, the judge set each defendant's bail at $100,000.

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