HUNTINGTON, Ind. (TCD) -- A 32-year-old man has been charged after his girlfriend’s 8-year-old son was found dead in a locked room last month.
Court records show the case against Matthew Joseph Dirig was filed in Huntington County on Dec. 5 for a charge of neglect of a dependent resulting in death.
According to WANE-TV, which cites court documents, on Nov. 22, Huntington Police officers went to a home after a woman called to report her son was deceased and had a zip tie around his neck. The coroner determined the 8-year-old died from asphyxia, but the manner of death was undetermined.
WPTA-TV, which also refers to court documents, reports Dirig picked up the boy from the Boys & Girls Club on Nov. 22 because the boy was "having a bad day." Dirig allegedly put the boy in his room because it was his "safe space," and the door was locked from the outside for safety purposes. The boy’s mother reportedly told detectives Dirig came up with the idea to change the lock to the outside of the door.
Dirig and the boy’s mother reportedly both told police the victim had mental health and behavioral issues. The mother allegedly said her son previously attempted suicide, but he was recently in therapy.
The mother reportedly came home and went to check on her son. She opened the door and found him unresponsive. When police arrived, they reportedly found zip ties around the house, including a broken one in the trash can. Investigators also allegedly saw scratch marks on Dirig’s jacket and medical gloves in the jacket’s pocket.
WANE reports the boy’s mom texted Dirig about 45 minutes before she got home to check in on her son. Dirig reportedly did not respond because he was "busy playing" his video game. He allegedly told police he did not check on the boy because he "got sidetracked."
The child had reportedly been inside the room for about two hours.
Court records show Dirig posted his $15,000 bond and has been released.