Money woes in accused child-captive house?

London police inspector Kevin Heslop and Children's Aid Society executive director Jane Fitzgerald...

London police inspector Kevin Heslop and Children's Aid Society executive director Jane Fitzgerald speak about the rescue of a 10-year-old boy held captive for 18-24 months in London, Ont. on Friday May 30, 2014.DEREK RUTTAN/ The London Free Press /QMI AGENCY

Jennifer Bieman, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:52 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- The family came to Canada from South Korea in search of opportunity.

Now, a London man and woman are charged with depriving a boy -- a 10-year-old police say was locked in a room for up to two years -- of even the chance to go to school.

As police investigate the horrifying story behind the pale youngster with the long hair rescued from a filthy suburban London house last week, many questions remain:

-- Why would the couple -- guardians of the boy, whose out-of-country parents police hadn't found -- keep him confined in a room reeking of human waste?

-- Why was a nine-year-old girl also living in the house, the boy's cousin, allowed to roam free including going to school, but not the boy?

While police are expected to say more Monday, the adult son of one of the accused -- tracked down by QMI Agency -- hinted at family financial troubles.

"I didn't know it was like this," said the 21-year-old, who lives in the Toronto area and is apparently estranged from the family.

"I just assumed that they were fine," he said. "Like obviously, they didn't have the money to support anything."

Information that would identify the boy and the girl, whom child-welfare authorities have taken into foster care, can't be published.

Authorities said the malnourished boy, whom they allege was fed a fast-food diet twice a day in the bedroom of the southeast London house where he was held, said he most wanted to go to school.

The adult son said he was aware the couple was taking care of the boy, but that didn't know much about it.

He said he was most concerned about his nine-year-old sister and only found out about the allegations after a friend messaged him on Skype after the story broke.

"I don't know what's worse -- them dying or this," said the son.

He said he'd gone to a Toronto-area college but "had to drop out because my parents weren't having a good time financially."

The London couple is charged with confinement and failing to provide the necessaries of life.

Sunday, the head of the local child-welfare agency said the boy is settling in "really well" with his foster family.

"Can you imagine what it is like to be in a room for what we now know was 18 to 24 months, and now be outside in the sunshine?" Jane Fitzgerald of the Children's Aid Society of London and Middlesex said.

"The most promising thing for us was that he was playing with the other children in the foster home," she said. "He was sleeping well, he has an appetite . . . and we are so pleased because that is a sign of his resiliancy.

"He will have some tough times ahead, for sure, but in these early days he is doing really well."

The adult son said the family came to Canada from South Korea in 1997 and operated a couple of convenience stores over the years.

-- With files by Jennifer O'Brien

jennifer.bieman@sunmedia.ca


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