Brothers Alfred Matthews, nine, and Albie Tunklin, five, were used to staying at home alone when their mother was out. Alfred sometimes made their dinner. One night he began cooking frozen french fries on the gas stove.
Little Albie ran over and reached up for a fry, bumping the skillet handle. Hot oil burned Albie’s arm, and a small grease fire flared up briefly. Alfred ran next door and told his neighbor that his brother was hurt. The neighbor dialed 911.
Officer Ted Harper arrived just ahead of the firefighters; he interviewed the neighbor, who said it was not unusual for the boys’ mother to leave them home alone. Harper called the Department of Social Services and told them he was taking Alfred and Albie into temporary custody because they had been left unsupervised.