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Parents arrested after son's body found in flat weeks after his death
thinkSPAIN , Saturday, January 9, 2016

PARENTS of a seven-year-old child thought to have been dead for several weeks when he was found by police have been arrested, but since released with charges.

Their son was lying in his bed when he was discovered, and is thought to have died there at least a month earlier.

Criminal investigators from Girona city detained the child's parents, US nationals from Detroit aged 38 and 39, and charged them with negligent homicide.

The couple's other two children, aged 12 and 14, were taken into care and have been seen by psychologists.

Police say the owner of the flat on the C/ Joan Roca Pinet in the Ensanche neighbourhood of Girona made the tragic discovery when she called round to collect several months' unpaid rent.

When she arrived, she heard loud shouting from behind the door and cries entreating the 'Devil' to 'get out', and called the Mossos d'Esquadra – Catalunya's answer to the Guardia Civil – who attended the scene immediately.

Upon entering, officers noticed a pungent smell throughout the flat and, when they inspected every room inside, they found a seven-year-old boy wrapped in blankets in his bed.

They said he had probably been dead for at least a month, but possibly as long as three months.

A post-mortem has since revealed that the child's death was unlikely to have been murder.

Police say the parents, Bruce and Schrell Hopkins, ate all their meals, and slept, in their dead son Caleb's room – and other sources close to the couple say the father had led the rest of the family to believe the little boy was still alive.

Initial theories suggest the child had died from an illness, as yet undefined, but which could have been related to the asthma he was known to suffer from.

It is thought his parents did not call a doctor or take him to hospital because they did not believe in conventional medicine.

They had been giving him homeopathic treatment, although the father insisted the boy was treated with Ventolín and said copies of his prescriptions were scanned onto his computer - but it is not known whether these were collected.

When questioned after their arrest, the boy's parents said they 'thought he was asleep' and 'did not notice the smell'.

Reported to be devout Pentecostal Christians, the couple were apparently praying round the clock for their son to wake up and believed God would revive him – despite his body being in a badly decomposed state when he was found by police.

Mr and Mrs Hopkins believed they could cure Caleb and bring him back to life by praying.

They have been banned from leaving the country, even though they are currently illegal immigrants in Spain as their visa has expired.

A deportation order hanging over them has been suspended in light of the accusations.

Further toxicology tests and an inspection of the contents of the father's computer are pending before it can be decided whether to withdraw the charges against the Hopkins or whether to return their other two children to their custody.

They said they wanted to return to their flat in Girona, but the property has been cordoned off and is said to be in a 'very poor state' of hygiene.

Prosecutors who interviewed the boy's parents say they appeared not to have accepted the fact their son was dead, and Schrell Hopkins in particular was very much in denial.

They are said to have lived in Missouri, USA, after leaving their native Detroit, and spent a month in Perpignan, southern France before moving into the duplex in Girona in August 2014.



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