POLICE WHO responded to a domestic dispute in Upper Darby on Tuesday were shocked to discover a 3-year-old autistic boy in the house with the burn print of a fork on his face.

The child's father, Miguel Sanchez, 48, was arrested in connection with the brutal act, and the child's mother is now under investigation for cigarette burns discovered on the chest of another of the couple's four children, said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood.

"These poor kids were treated like they were animals," Chitwood said.

About 3:30 p.m., an officer responded to the couple's house, on Radbourne Road near Church Lane, because the mother, whose name has not been released, reported that Sanchez had stolen her debit card, Chitwood said.

The responding officer, who had been at the house the previous day to address accusations that Sanchez was pushing his girlfriend around, noticed the fresh burn mark of a fork on the 3-year-old's face, according to police.

The officer found a burned fork in the sink, and the other children, who range in age from 2 to 6, told investigators that their dad had burned their brother with the fork.

"You feel sorry for these kids," Chitwood said. "They are the witnesses."

Marks consistent with cigarette burns were found on the chest of a 6-year-old boy, who said his mom burned him, police said.

Delaware County Children and Youth Services took all four children from the house and put them in protective custody, Chitwood said.

Sanchez was charged with recklessly endangering another person, simple assault and related offenses. Chitwood said Sanchez's girlfriend is "protecting the guy" even though she is the one who called police to the house in the first place.

Chitwood said the investigation remains ongoing with a goal of arresting the mother for the assault on the 6-year-old.

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