TULSA — Three small children who were taken into protective custody Sunday are fortunate to be alive — or at least not in a hospital, neighbors said Monday.
Matthew Testerman found a naked 4-year-old crying outside a neighbor’s home around 4 p.m. Sunday.
“I was standing outside, and I could hear what sounded like a little boy crying,” Testerman said. “He was screaming, ‘Daddy, let me in! I’m cold!’”
The temperature in Tulsa at the time was 42 degrees, National Weather Service records indicate.
A police report indicates that the child had been outside crying for longer than 20 minutes.
“If he had been out there any longer, there is no doubt he would have been hospitalized,” Testerman said.
Testerman found the boy outside William Todd Lewallen’s residence in the 4600 block of North Frankfort Place and tried to knock on the home’s front door. When no one answered, Testerman took the child to his house and called the police.
The responding officers heard screaming from inside Lewallen’s home and, upon forcing entry, found an 18-month-old child locked in a metal dog cage and covered in feces, Officer Leland Ashley said.
Lewallen, 47, reportedly was “impaired to the point where he didn’t hear his child screaming for help outside or the other child wailing to be let out of the cage,” police said in a news release.
He was found in bed with a third child, a 3-year-old who was also naked, police said.
Lewallen was arrested on a complaint of child abuse or neglect, and the Department of Human Services was called to take custody of the children.
“I just feel so sad for the children,” said Everett Tottress, who has lived in the neighborhood for the last 18 years. “If I would have seen those kids, I would have called the police. We look out for each other in this neighborhood.”
Lewallen remained in the Tulsa jail on Monday evening in lieu of $50,000 bail.
He has been charged in eight felony cases in four counties since 1989, records show. He was to remain on probation until December 2013 on a 2003 second-degree burglary conviction in Osage County.
In August, he was given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to a Tulsa County charge of possessing a precursor ingredient with intent to manufacture methamphetamine.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Testerman. “You only hear horror stories about something like that. Those kids are lucky to be alive.”