5-year-old boy in grave condition; adults accused of torture

A 5-year-old boy is hospitalized in grave condition and two adults were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of child abuse and torture, authoritie...

A 5-year-old boy is hospitalized in grave condition and two adults were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of child abuse and torture, authorities said today.

Murrieta Police and Fire Department officers responding to a 911 call in the 24000 block of Verdun Lane Tuesday found the child with severe injuries. He required immediate attention and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. Officers determined the incident was an apparent case of child abuse and reported that the living conditions at the home were "extremely unsanitary."

Detectives assuming the investigation interviewed the boy's biological father and live-in girlfriend. After obtaining a search warrant and collecting evidence, they determined that these adults were responsible for the dire condition of the child.

Benjamin Whitten, 33, and Jeryn Johnson, 25, were booked into the Cois Byrd Detention Center Tuesday night. Due to the severity of injuries to the child, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office was contacted. Both suspects face charges of willful harm to a child, infliction of great bodily injury and torture. The child was airlifted to a hospital in San Diego County, where he remained in grave condition Wednesday afternoon.

In addition, Animal Control officers removed 11 dogs, four cats and two fish from the location.

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