News

Midstate community reacts to man who locked kid in cage

Written by Daniel Walmer/Lebanon Daily News | May 22, 2017 6:57 AM
child_cage_pottsville.jpg

A stroller and car seat sit outside of the home at 316 Chestnut St. in Pottsville where 37-year-old Cecil Eugene Kutz lived. (Photo: Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News)

Details arise from community, police records

(Pottsville) -- In the Pottsville area, famous for the historic Yuengling Brewery, neighbors are reeling from reports that a local man left three small children at home alone, the oldest of them caged.

More details are emerging about a man who allegedly locked his toddler in a cage while leaving three young children home alone.

State police found the children - ranging in age from 1 day to 22 months - unsupervised Wednesday in a home at 316 Chestnut St. in North Manheim Township, Schuylkill County. The oldest child was locked in what police described as a homemade cage constructed of wood and lattice and a door that locked from the outside.

"I cried when I read that," said a community member who is also a mother to a 22-month-old boy.

The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she understands the challenges of being a mom and finding daycare. However, she couldn't understand locking a child in a cage.

 

Cage or playpen?

The father, Cecil Kutz, 37, is facing criminal charges as a result of his actions. Authorities were alerted after mother Tiffany George was hospitalized for excessive bleeding as a result of giving birth to her third child at home.

Authorities said they had no evidence that the one-day-old baby had been fed.

George told WFMZ-TV of Allentown that her oldest child was held in a secure playpen, not a cage. She showed television cameras the cage, which has crisscrossing lattice sides and was filled with a yellow toy truck and other toys.

"The whole purpose of it was so that he couldn't get out and hurt himself," George told WFMZ.
In fact, she said, Schuylkill County Children and Youth had previously seen the cage, and she had added a lid in response to concerns from officials that the child could climb the lattice.

Reporters from the Lebanon Daily News and another television station knocked on a door to the home repeatedly Friday morning. George said "go away," then entered a vehicle and ordered reporters off her property before driving away.

In her interview with WFMZ, however, George didn't completely defend Kutz. Instead, she said she wished the media would focus more on the fact that Kutz left the children alone for 40 minutes.

The community member who is also mother to a 22-month-old expressed similar outrage to the Lebanon Daily News.

"I don't know how as a parent that could ever go through your head, to leave a child unattended," she said.

 

"A strange dude"

While news of the children's plight shocked some within the Pottsville community, one of Kutz's neighbors said he wasn't really surprised, "just knowing him."

"He's a strange dude," said the neighbor, who asked not to be identified.

Kutz moved to Chestnut Street about 15 years ago and built the tall, block garage attached to the home, the neighbor said. The garage advertises itself as a "Full Service Auto Truck and Trailer Repair" shop, but the neighbor said he didn't get much business.

George moved in about 2-3 years ago, he said.

The neighbor said he rarely saw the residents, and sightings of their children were even rarer. In fact, he was under the impression that they only had one child.

Still, he said he knew nothing that would specifically have made him suspect that Kutz had a cage for his son, or would abandon a day old infant home alone.

Details from police

Tiffany George was transported to Lehigh Valley Health Network South Hospital at 9:30 a.m. May 17 due to complications from child birth the night before, according to a police affidavit. The hospital then alerted authorities the children might be unattended, State Trooper David Boehm said.

Two state troopers and a Children and Youth Services worker arrived at the home at 2:10 p.m. that afternoon, the affidavit states. After reaching Kutz by telephone and learning he was not at home, they forcibly entered the home and discovered the children inside the front door.

In addition to the 22-month-old in the cage, a 1-year-old boy was sitting in a play pen and the 1-day-old girl was next to him on the floor in a baby seat, the affidavit says. The baby girl was taken by ambulance to the Lehigh Valley Health Network South Hospital for evaluation.

While state troopers were still at the scene, Kutz returned to the home and was arrested, according to the affidavit. He had left the children unsupervised for at least 40 minutes, police said.

Police "didn't see any evidence that the baby even had any baby formula inside the residence nor did we (find) evidence that the baby was fed at all, such as a used baby bottle etc.," the affidavit states.

Custody of the children has been transferred to Schuylkill County CYS, according to police.

Kutz was committed to Schuylkill County Prison after being unable to post $250,000 bail, according to court documents. He was charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of children and three misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 24 in front of magisterial district judge David Plachko.

Kutz's previous criminal history in Schuylkill County mostly consists of two summary traffic offenses. He was charged with felony theft in 2008 but the charges were later withdrawn.

George pled guilty in 2015 to misdemeanor DUI high rate of alcohol - first offense and to general DUI -first offense stemming from a Dec. 20, 2014 incident in Lycoming County, spending about at least 10 days in jail in the spring.

She pled guilty twice in 2016 to charges of driving with a suspended license that stemmed from two separate incidents.

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and the Lebanon Daily News  

Published in Lebanon, News

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