Man locks his three-year-old son in car trunk for a 'social experiment' to see how the public would react to bad parenting
Following Matlak's arrest, the three-year-old child was taken away by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and placed in the custody of a relative
A Chicago father who was arrested and charged with endangering the life of a child after he was seen locking his three-year-old son Leo in the trunk of his car claims he did so for "a social experiment". Several witnesses spotted 28-year-old Boguslaw Matlak committing the act outside the Panera Bread at the Harlem Irving Plaza in Norridge, Cook County, though he insists he only did so to gauge the crowd's reaction.
According to NBC News, at the time, the father could be heard screaming at the boy, "You are being bad and I'm going to punish you by putting you in the trunk." In a report filed by the Norridge Police Department, it was stated that the temperature outside was 89 degrees.
Three people, who were sitting close to where Matlak had parked his car, told a responding officer that after closing the trunk, the father immediately got into the car and drove away. When Matlak later returned to the parking lot, he was confronted by the officer.
The 28-year-old told the officer that he was conducting a social experiment in the hope that he could become an "internet sensation", explaining how he had done the same act twice before and no one had reacted on either occasion.
His wife, Laura Quijano, was also part of the experiment. A hidden camera was placed to see if any bystanders would intervene, and Matlak insisted that his son was never in any danger. He claimed that the back seat was folded down and that Quijano was able to grab the boy from the inside of the car and place him safely in the car's back seat after he placed him in the trunk.
"I was thinking maybe I should do a video to show people that they should do something about it when they see something wrong, to get involved," he said. However, witnesses said they did not see Leo in the back seat as the car pulled out of the parking lot and Matlak was subsequently arrested.
While the father insisted the entire incident was a social experiment, the police report stated that Matlak changed his version of events several times during questioning. Officers also found a recording device on his body and when questioned, he claimed he was "an informant for the Cook County State Police".
Following the incident, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services removed the three-year-old from his parents' custody and placed him in the care of a relative. But after both Quijano and Matlak complied with every request trying to get him back, Leo has been returned to their custody.
Department spokesman Neil Skene said in a statement that "the parents agreed not to use the child in social experiments". However, Matlak still faces one count of misdemeanor child endangerment and is scheduled to appear in court on Friday, September 28.