Child found searching dumpster for food, neighbors hope for justice

National News

EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – Neighbors at the Coffee Creek Mobile Home Park are reacting after a starving 8-year-old boy is found digging around in the dumpster looking for food. They told KFOR they would’ve stepped in to help if they knew what was happening behind closed doors.

“Starved their children? In this day?” said Jimmy Whomble, who lives in the area. “I really can’t imagine. That’s horrible.”

Edmond Police said the boy was seen crawling out of his bedroom window at night because he was hungry.

“He was actually in the dumpster, so we kind of scared him when we threw in the garbage,” said Lashaunda Campbell, who lives two trailers away from the crime.

The 8-year-old was rushed to the hospital, after DHS caseworkers learned how malnourished the boy was.

“He was just over three feet tall, about 30 pounds, and wore a size 3T clothing,” said Emily Ward with the Edmond Police Department. “Those measurements, if you look on World Health Organization, that would be the size of a two-and-a-half year old.”

Photo goes with story
Akemi Cox and Valero Garcia

Officers also said the boy was so skinny his skin appeared to be hanging from his body and his belly was distended.

“There’s no genetic condition that would cause him to be that size,” said Ward.

“I would’ve gladly given him food,” said Lashaunda Campbell, who lives two trailers away from the family.

DHS rushed the eight year old to the hospital, where staff reported something was off with his mother, Akemi Cox.

“She was a little strange and restricted on what he was eating when the staff would try to feed him,” Ward told KFOR.

Cox and her fiancé Valero Garcia were arrested and are now at the Oklahoma County Detention Center. They face multiple child neglect charges.

Neighbors tell us they’re now piecing together the family dynamic.

“They never really interacted with people,” said Campbell. “They were more keep to themselves.”

In a sad and ironic twist, KFOR found Facebook posts from Cox’s friends thanking her for donating meals to families in need. Police said she also made money by driving for Uber Eats and would take the boy with her.

Cox already lost parental rights to five other children, making her neighbors wonder about the DHS process.

“They’ve had cases for so long, years that date back. They still have custody of a child?” said Campbell. “That is where our system needs to be more involved.”

“Let somebody else take care of them. There are a lot of other people who will take care of your kids,” said neighbor Michelle Smith. “I would’ve taken care of him.”

Neighbors also told us, they’re hoping for justice.

“I’m not a mean person, but as a mother, I hope they do get severely penalized because this is a child we’re talking about,” said Campbell.

Edmond Police said since the boy was placed in foster care, he has gained weight. After only being in DHS custody for about a month, the eight year old gained 15 pounds, which is half of his original body weight.

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