WILLMAR (WCCO) — Kandiyohi County Health and Human Service investigators temporarily suspended a Willmar woman’s daycare license after allegations she kept several children locked in a basement storage room.
Shelly Schueller has appealed the suspension, but her ex-boyfriend Hilario Vargas turned over a video to authorities that he says is proof. It shows children in four playpens inside a small windowless storage room, sleeping next to exposed insulation.
Vargas says he discovered the locked room by accident, when he lived at the home earlier this year. He has a 5-year-old son with Scheuller.
“I heard one of the kids crying, I went to a room another room, I had never been in there and she told me it was storage,” said Vargas, who says he had to get a key to unlock the door. “That room is pitch-black dark; you cannot see your hand in front of you. That’s where I put , I put my son. I visualized my son there. I hope to God she didn’t do that to our son.”
A relative at Scheuller’s home said Tuesday night she was not available for comment, but told WCCO-TV that Vargas staged the entire video over visitation issues with Scheuller’s son. The relative said he threatened the family and Scheuller filed a protection order against Vargas.
Vargas said he struggled on whether to turn the video over to authorities because he feared Scheuller would keep his son away from him, but he says after seeing children repeatedly put in the storage room, he couldn’t keep quiet.
“She’s gotta realize what she did. She is not going to be able to cover it up,” said Vargas.
Kandiyohi County investigators declined comment during the ongoing investigation. The Willmar Police Department is not investigating any possible criminal charges at this time.