BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Police say they’re working with Child Protective Services after three boys allegedly raped two younger boys in Battle Creek.
The investigation started June 12, when police were called to a fire involving a small garage or shed at a vacant home on S. Wabash Avenue near Capital Avenue.
Officers say interviews led them to three boys, ages 11, 12 and 13, who first told officers they accidentally dropped a marijuana cigarette on a mattress. The boys told police they threw what they thought was water onto the mattress to put out the flames, but it turned out to be gasoline.
Investigators now think the boys may have set the mattress on fire to destroy evidence, but they may not have been successful.
“Even after a fire, evidence can be recovered,” said Detective Sgt. Todd Elliott during a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
Elliott said the investigation took a turn about seven hours after the fire when the mother of the 6- and 8-year-old victims called police, after noticing her sons were acting differently.
The suspects allegedly held down the two boys during the assaults, police say.
“Obviously this is a very traumatic incident to go through. But they are safe,” he added.
Elliott said the case is even more difficult since the victims are children.
“Anytime you have kids, especially this young, and you have a violent attack like this, that’s alleged… it is difficult to do,” he said.
The three suspects remain in the Calhoun County Juvenile Home on charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. The arson investigation is ongoing.
Authorities say the suspects and victims are from the same neighborhood, but they are not releasing their names because of their ages.
Police said there may be more victims and that more charges may be forthcoming.
With many classes over for the summer, Elliott cautions parents to remain aware of their kids’ activities. He encourages parents to set boundaries for where their kids can play, know who they are hanging out with, and talk about what “good touch” and “bad touch” are.