Oldest boy surrenders in Idaho stalemate


One of the six children locked in a stalemate with authorities turned himself in Friday, the first break in a four-day impasse that began with their mother’s arrest for neglect.

Benjamin McGuckin, 15, was driven here — about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of the decaying family home in the backwoods near Garfield Bay — late Thursday by a neighbor.

Authorities said the boy appears willing to help resolve the conflict, which capped a year-long series of disappointments and loss.

“He could convince them that nothing bad will happen,” Bonner County Prosecutor Phil Robinson said.

Five siblings remain at the house — Kathryn, 16; Mary, 13; James, 11; Frederick, 9; and Jane, 8 — but the sheriff was reluctant to call the situation a standoff. The oldest sister, 19-year-old Erina, who left the house after a falling out with her parents, also has been working with authorities.

“We hope that maybe they can give us some insight into how to wind this thing down,” Robinson said.

Benjamin apparently had been outside for some time — perhaps since Tuesday — before turning himself in. The house sits in dense woods on a loop of dirt road, beyond sight of roadblocks manned by deputies.

Although there was “some indication that he was suffering from malnutrition,” the boy did not need to be hospitalized, Robinson said. He was in temporary state care.

Robinson said he had not met with Benjamin, nor is the boy the subject of a criminal investigation.

“I don’t anticipate filing any charges,” he said.

Erina McGuckin’s concerns about conditions at the home formed the basis of charges against mother JoAnn McGuckin, who was arrested Tuesday for investigation of child neglect and held on US$100,000 bail.

When deputies went to the house after her arrest to collect the children, authorities said, Benjamin yelled “Get the guns!” and set loose more than two dozen dogs.