An Arkansas father is facing a felony charge for allegedly hiding his 5-year-old daughter in a small room behind a false wall behind a closet with only a blanket and a lit candle.
Body camera footage shows John Thompson, 40, leading police to a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, removing a large amount of clothing and boxes, and calling out to his daughter.
“Hey, baby, I’m here now,” he says as he peels back the fake wall nailed to the wall and lifts the frightened girl into his arms.
“She came out and was crying. She was scared,” the detective said. Keith Lindley of the Tontitown Police Department in northwest Arkansas told FOX News Digital.
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Police were dispatched to Thompson’s parents’ home on the afternoon of Nov. 1 to assist the Department of Human Services in securing custody of Thompson’s daughter pursuant to a court order.
Lindley said he was granted temporary custody on Oct. 24, but failed to submit to routine drug testing.
“I can understand the sadness that adults feel when they lose their child…but at the end of the day, a 5-year-old is glued to a hole in a closet surrounded by pink insulation with a candle burning inside. .”
Additionally, the girl’s hair follicles tested positive for methamphetamine, detectives told FOX News Digital.
When officers arrived, they heard a banging sound, which they assumed was Thompson hitting the drywall of the compartment with a hammer.
Thompson was initially uncooperative with police, but police eventually convinced him to take him to the child and hand him over.
The officers were so surprised by where he hid the girl that they contacted the prosecuting attorney to file a case.
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Investigators interviewed the child, who stated, “I was scared to go into the hole in the wall, but I wanted my father to go in.” He allegedly told her that if she didn’t, he would take her girlfriend away.
“She described the room as small and dark and stated that she had to sit cross-legged because she could not stretch her legs,” according to the police report.
The girl said it was her first time in the compartment, and her father told her it was “the best hideout.”
Once inside, she had to go to the bathroom and “tried to ask to be let out, but no one would let her out,” according to the police report.
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Lindley said she was trapped in an enclosed space surrounded by flammable pink insulation for about an hour with candles lit.
The girl was estranged from her mother and was subsequently placed in a foster home.
On November 3, police arrested Thompson on charges of false imprisonment, endangering the welfare of a minor, and interfering with the custody of a child.
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A search warrant was executed at the family home, and police recovered a bulletproof vest from the room where the girl was hidden.
“I understand the sadness that adults feel when they lose a child because of their own poor decisions, but at the end of the day, it’s a burned five-year-old stuck in a hole in a closet.” The candle was surrounded by pink insulation,” Lindley told FOX News Digital. “We believe these acts are inherently criminal in nature.”
Fox News’ Julia Bonavita contributed to this report