HARRISONBURG — A Rockingham County grand jury indicted two parents Monday, accusing them of forcing two children to ride in the back of a U-Haul truck from Alabama headed for Massachusetts.
Khalid Lateef Sheffield, 42, of Lynn, Mass., and Kathleen M. Duenas, 36, of Huntsville, Ala., were indicted on two felony counts of child abuse and felony possession with the intent to distribute marijuana.
Following their indictments, the pair appeared in Rockingham County Circuit Court. Judge Bruce Albertson scheduled Sheffield to appear in court on Wednesday to schedule a plea hearing or trial date. He scheduled Duenas to appear in court on April 4 for a plea hearing.
The case against the pair began at about 3 p.m. on Oct. 8, when, police allege, a motorist reported two “visibly upset children being forced into the back of a U-Haul truck” parked at the Interstate 81 rest area at mile marker 262 near the border with Shenandoah County.
Prosecutors say a trooper with the Virginia State Police responded to the scene and found two girls, ages 4 and 11, locked in the back of the truck, which had a makeshift bed and some food for the girls. Police also found marijuana and various nondescript pills.
Police say Sheffield is the father of the 11-year-old and Duenas is the mother of the 4-year-old.
The U-Haul had been traveling from Alabama, where both children are from, on the way to Massachusetts, police say.
The children were turned over to Harrisonburg-Rockingham County Child Protective Services.
Duenas is being held on $10,000 secured bond and Sheffield is being held without bond. Both are being held at the Rockingham County Jail.