HENRY COUNTY, Ind. - A Pennsylvania couple was sentenced to serve 18 months of probation Tuesday after pleading guilty to neglect charges after police found five of their children riding in the back of a moving truck in November.
A Henry County judge sentenced David K. Detjen, 41, and Rebecca S. Detjen, 40, of Fairmount City, Penn., transferred the 18-month sentence to be served in Pennsylvania.
The sentencing was part of a plea agreement that initially included a year and a half suspended sentence and a year and a half of probation. During court proceedings, it came out in court that David Detjen has a prior conviction in Wayne County, Ind., related to a 1990 child molestation case. He also has a 2001 theft conviction on his record.
Both David and Rebecca Detjen were convicted of child endangerment in 2005.
"We had a dirty house and I had a broken ankle," Rebecca Detjen told RTV6, when asked about her 2005 conviction.
The Detjens' most recent arrest resulted from an anonymous tip to police.
Police said there were sleeping bags in the back of the truck, but the children had no heat or ability to communicate with their parents. The probable cause affidavit said the officer knew the children were cold, because he could see their breath.
All of the family's belongings were also in the truck, and police said two of the children were riding on a tall stack of boxes.
David Detjen told police that he had a job prospect in California, and was moving his family there.
According to court documents, he told police that he knew the travel arrangement was unsafe and that he had made a mistake.
The Detjens' story engendered a lot of sympathy immediately after their arrest, and a stranger from Texas even paid their bond.
Henry County Prosecutor Joe Bergacs said the agreement was fair under the circumstances and that the safety of the children was at the top priority.
The Detjens will be monitored by the Pennsylvania Department of Youth Services.