American parents of boy found dead in Spain charged with reckless homicide

GIRONA, Spain -- An American couple arrested after police found the badly decomposed body of their 7-year-old son at the family's apartment in northeastern Spain told a court Friday that the child suffered from asthma and did not wake up one morning, but that the family didn't believe he was dead.

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A judge charged Bruce and Schrell Hopkins, aged 39 and 38 and originally from the Detroit area, with reckless homicide but allowed them to be released provisionally after questioning them. Case prosecutor Enrique Barata said their passports were removed.

Police on Tuesday arrested the two after officers found the body of their son, Caleb, under several blankets on a bed at the family's rented apartment in the city of Girona.

Barata said the exact cause and time of the child's death had yet to be established. They said the child was known to be alive on Nov. 15 when the family went to a restaurant to celebrate a family birthday.

Barata told reporters the father said he tried to resuscitate the boy. He told the judge the family did not take the child to a hospital because they did not believe in standard medicine, although they had treated him with inhalers and homeopathic medicine.

The prosecutor said the father acknowledged he lost his sense of reason when he saw that the child was no longer moving. He said that after that the couple and their two other children stayed in the apartment with the corpse.

Police discovered the body after they went to the apartment following a call by the apartment's owner, who had gone to collect unpaid rent.

Barata said the family's visas had expired several months ago.

Police previously called at the apartment on New Year's Eve to check if the father was all right after the U.S. embassy contacted them, saying the man's work colleagues were concerned after not hearing from him in some time.

Police said the man did not open the door but insisted that he was fine and would get in contact with the U.S. embassy. The spokesman said the officers noticed nothing suspicious.


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