TRACY, Calif. (AP) - The aunt and one-time guardian of an emaciated and shackled 17-year-old has been arrested, as police tried to determine how she knew the couple accused of holding the teen against his will for nearly a year.
Caren Ramirez was arrested Tuesday in Berkeley, a day after the boy walked into a gym and begged managers to hide him. He was covered in soot, had a chain on his foot and was wearing only boxer briefs.
Police arrested a couple who lived near the gym in Tracy and booked them on suspicion of torture, kidnapping and child abuse. Tracy is about 60 miles east of San Francisco.
Ramirez, 43, had been the teen's guardian after child-welfare officials took him from his abusive father three or four years ago, police said. Ramirez herself was later arrested for allegedly abusing the boy, ad he was placed in a Sacramento foster home, which he fled in late 2007, police said.
Since then, the boy's whereabouts hadn't been known until Monday, when he entered the fitness center.
Police said Wednesday there had been conflicting reports about how the boy ended up at the gym. First they said they believed the boy had been chained to a car seat but picked up a dropped key, unlocked himself and fled when the car stopped. Tracy police spokesman Matt Robinson said authorities now believe the boy hopped over a fence to get away.
Kelly Layne Lau, 30, and Michael Schumacher, 34, were arrested earlier Tuesday and were jailed in lieu of bail set at nearly $1.2 million each. They were set to appear in court Thursday. Prosecutors did not know if they had attorneys.
Lau and Schumacher's four young children, two of whom were home when police arrived, were taken into protective custody, authorities said.
Gym manager Chuck Ellis said the teen was scared someone was going to come after him and asked to be hidden.
The boy said he had been held captive for nearly a year, said Ellis, adding that he looked as if he was only 10 to 12 years old.