A Chicago couple claims a failed social experiment involving their 3-year-old son led to the father's arrest and the boy being taken away from them.
Laura Quijano and Boguslaw Matlak told police that they were trying to understand public reaction to child endangerment when they turned on a hidden camera and filmed Matlak place their son in the trunk of their car, which was parked outside of a restaurant in Norridge, a suburb of Chicago.
"You are being bad and I'm going to punish you by putting you in the trunk," Matlak yelled at his son after putting him in the trunk, witnesses told police.
The temperature outside was 89 degrees, according to a Norridge Police Department report.
"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," Matlak told NBC Chicago of the Sept. 2 incident.
Three people sitting near where the Audi was parked outside of a Panera Bread told the responding officer that after closing the trunk, Matlak immediately got into the car and drove away.
The officer later recognized Matlak when the father returned to the parking lot without his wife and child.
Matlak told the officer that he was conducting a social experiment in hopes of becoming an "internet sensation." Matlak said he had done the same trunk bit with his child twice before, and no one had reacted.
The officer checked on the boy, who was with his mother, and saw he was safe. Quijano told him the back seat had been folded down and she was able to grab the boy from the inside of the car and place him in his car seat after his father put him in the trunk.
The police report said witnesses said they didn't see the boy in the back seat as the car pulled out of the parking lot.
Matlak was arrested and charged with endangering the life of a child. The police report said his version of events changed several times during questioning, and officers found a recording device on Matlak's body. He told officers that he was an "informant for the Cook County State Police," the report said.
The child was removed from his parent's care and placed with a relative by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services "We want to take the time to be sure we fully understand the circumstances of this case," department spokesman Neil Skene told NBC News.
Rina Infelise, Quijano's attorney, said the parents made a mistake, but aren't criminals.
"Anybody can make a poor decision, every error in judgment made by a parent doesn't equal abuse and neglect," she said.