Fred and Nancy van Pelt of Roseville, a suburb of Minneapolis, were arrested at their home after their son, Linus van Pelt, turned up at the James Street Elementary School still suffering from the effects of hypothermia and muttering under his breath about being forsaken by a "Great Pumpkin."
"The poor kid - he was clearly delirious," said Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fincher, who referred the case to the county's Child Protective Services department. "He had an old ratty blanket that he had wrapped around himself, and he was just shaking and mumbling."
Residents said they spotted the boy several times in a neighborhood pumpkin patch the night before, sitting among the pumpkins as his friends were enjoying tricks-or-treats. He was primarily alone, but was seen for a time accompanied by a neighbor, Sally Brown, 5, who is now being questioned by police psychiatrists.
Neighbors told CAP News that the boy believed he would be visited in the pumpkin patch by a so-called "Great Pumpkin," who would present him with toys. His parents may have fostered this charade as a form of psychological torture, authorities believe.
Ownership of the pumpkin patch has not been determined, but several local residents have noted that it has always seemed "extremely sincere."
Police are also looking into the well being of other area children who, after tricks-or-treats, apparently attended a Halloween party with no adults present. There, several girls allegedly drew a jack-o-lantern face on the head of a local bald boy; they are now facing charges under Minnesota's new bullying law.
One of the girls in question, whom authorities declined to name, described their victim as a "stupid blockhead," apparently showing no remorse.