Officer describes squalor of locked basement in which Quincy boy was found

Posted: Jul. 17, 2014 10:08 am Updated: Jul. 31, 2014 11:15 am
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

A rope dangled above a mattress in the basement of a residence along Quincy’s busiest street.

“My mom used the rope to tie me up,” the 5-year-old boy told Quincy police officers after he was removed from the locked basement on the evening of April 20, Easter Sunday.

“He showed us how he used to get tied up,” Detective Doug McQuern said during a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Adams County Circuit Court. “He showed us how the rope went around his legs.”

When police tried to take him from the basement in the rear apartment at 2023 Broadway, the little boy said he couldn’t leave.

“He advised us that he needed to be put back into the basement before his mom found out so he didn’t get in trouble,” McQuern said.

McQuern provided the court details of what police found when they were called to the residence for a well-being check around 8 o’clock that night.

The boy’s mother, Tricia M. Franklin, 26, has been charged with unlawful restraint. She pleaded not guilty after Judge Scott Walden found probable cause, and her case was put on the September jury docket.

McQuern said the boy had climbed on top of a washer and dryer in the basement near a locked window, which he pounded on while yelling to get someone’s attention. A neighbor called police after hearing the cries for help.

McQuern said that, when police found the boy, he was upset and crying and told officers no one else was home, so they entered the residence. McQuern said a table had been turned and propped up against the door that led to the basement, as was a space heater.

“It kept the basement door shut and secure,” McQuern said.

He said officers removed the items and went to the basement, where they found the boy living in squalor. A child’s mattress with no sheets, a small blanket and a pillow without a pillowcase were found in the room, he said. Near the bed was a white bucket the boy used as a toilet. A package of partially eaten crackers was near the bed, as was a six-pack of bottled water and a number of toys.

McQuern said the space heater was running, a furnace panel in the basement had exposed wires and broken glass was on the floor.

McQuren said Franklin and the boy had been shopping at a local discount store earlier in the day with Christopher Goehl, who told police he dropped Franklin and her son off at the residence about 2:30 p.m.

Goehl told police he received a call about three hours later from Franklin asking for a ride to her job at a Quincy nursing home. When he arrived at the residence, Goehl said he asked Franklin about the boy’s whereabouts.

“She told him that the baby sitter had already picked (the boy) up,” McQuern said.

McQuern said Goehl picked Franklin up from work around 9:30 p.m. and drove her home. Driving down an alley to the residence, Goehl noticed it was blocked with police vehicles.

“If it’s the cops, tell them that you dropped (the boy) off earlier,” Goehl said Franklin asked him to tell officers.

Goehl said he told Franklin he would not lie to police.

Franklin was taken into custody and interviewed by officers. McQuern said Franklin initially told investigators she had dropped the boy off with a family member on her way to work. She said she received a call from Goehl, who told her that the boy was “secure.” McQuern said that Franklin said “secure” meant that the boy was tied up.

Later, Franklin changed her story, McQuern said.

“She said she had tied (the boy) up, placed the table in front of the door and locked him in the basement because she had to go to work and didn’t have anyone to watch him,” McQuern said.

McQuern said the boy had no way out of the basement.

Franklin sat stoically throughout the 20-minute hearing. She wore a jail-issued red-and-white striped jumpsuit and grasped several sheets of loose leaf notebook paper in her hands. She has been lodged in the Adams County Jail since her arrest in lieu of $20,000 bail.

Franklin was found fit to stand trial after a June 17 evaluation by Dr. Frank Froman, a Quincy psychologist. The boy has been turned over to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

If convicted of the charge, Franklin faces between one and three years in prison. She is eligible for probation.