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Oklahoma City parents arrested after 8-year-old with disability left to care for younger siblings

OKLAHOMA CITY - Two parents are now facing charges after police said their 8-year-old son, who has a disability, was left home alone to care for his 1- and 6-year-old siblings.

41-year-old Michael Dutton and 32-year-old Carolyn Hartness were booked into the Oklahoma County Jail on child neglect charges after a neighbor called police, asking them to check on the couple's kids.

When officers got to the neighborhood, they found the two older children playing alone outside the home. Once they got inside, they said they found even more cause for concern.

"There was also a baby left inside the residence that he was in charge of, as well," said Master Sergeant Gary Knight with the Oklahoma City Police Department.

That 22-month-old fast asleep in a pack-and-play inside the home police said was in "disarray" with prescription medication and tools scattered throughout.

"All of those things easily within reach of the children," Knight said.

Not long after police got there, one of the parents, Dutton, showed up.

He reportedly told officers he had left the kids home alone while he took his wife, Hartness, to work.

Dutton explained to police that Hartness' grandfather was supposed to come take care of the kids, but officials said that man did not show up until 20 minutes until after Dutton got home.

The oldest child told police he was left in charge of his siblings.

Neighbors also contradicted Dutton's story, saying this sort of thing happened often.

"Obviously, that's not a good situation, when you've got an 8-year-old in charge of a 6-year-old and also a baby," Knight said.

An officer picked Hartness up from work and brought her to the scene. She confirmed to police they left the kids alone, with the 8-year-old in charge.

Police did the math and said the kids were home alone for more than 30 minutes, something they claim should never happen.

"So, not a good situation, especially considering that the 8-year-old also has a disability that he's trying to deal with, as well," Knight said.

Police said the children were placed in the custody of a relative.