Man Puts Toddler In Trunk, Tells Police He Was Conducting Social Experiment In Hopes Of Becoming 'Internet Sensation'
A 28-year-old man told police he was conducting a social experiment in hopes of becoming "an internet sensation" when he put a toddler in a car trunk and closed it while in the parking lot of a Norridge restaurant, according to police reports.
Boguslaw Matlak was charged with child endangerment on Sept. 2. He is due in Rolling Meadows court Sept. 28 on the misdemeanor charge. Police said Matlak was a Schaumburg resident, of the 1800 block of Hemlock Place, but in a phone call Monday, Matlak said he lives in Chicago.
On Monday, Matlak said the whole situation was an act. He said he was looking to film a scene similar to a TV show called "What Would You Do?" According to the ABC TV website, the show, using hidden cameras, "establishes everyday scenarios and then captures people's reactions." It asks, "when you think no one is watching ... what would you do?"
"I'm just a normal guy," he said, adding that the boy involved was his son, who was not harmed. He said the scene was recorded, and "it was supposed to go on YouTube."
According to police, witnesses said the car was parked in the fire lane in the parking lot at Panera Bread, 4244 N. Harlem Ave. At 3:15 p.m., police said Matlak was seen grabbing a toddler by the hand and walking him to a 2004 gray Audi A6 sedan, telling the boy that he was being bad and that he would punish him by putting him in the trunk. Police said the boy was put into the trunk, and then Matlak then slammed the trunk shut, got into the driver's seat of the car and drove away through the parking lot.
According to police, the car headed north on Harlem Avenue, and Norridge and Harwood Heights police were unable to locate the vehicle. However, by 4:09 p.m., the car had returned to the Panera parking lot, and this time was in a parking space, police said.
Police said Matlak then walked out of the restaurant. Approached by police, he unlocked his car and showed police there was no boy inside. He told police he had returned to Panera because he was hungry and wanted to get food and stop by the Harlem Irving Plaza. He said the boy was home with his wife, who is the boy's mother.
He told police he was conducting a "social experiment" to see how people would react to him placing a toddler in the trunk and driving off. He told police he first went to the Kmart and Petco store parking lots nearby, but that no one at those locations reacted to the stunt so he decided to try Panera. Matlak said he hoped to establish a YouTube channel to become "an internet sensation," according to the report.
When the officer suggested that the action was irresponsible, he said Matlak added that getting arrested was a possible outcome of running this social experiment, the report stated.
Matlak said his wife was in the rear passenger seat and when the child was inside the rear trunk, he said she was able to secure the child after he climbed through the open trunk passenger area into the passenger compartment of the vehicle, police said.
Police said Matlak's wife also said the scene was part of a social experiment that she and her husband were "conducting and recording," according to the report. Police said they later visited the residence, and the toddler appeared to be in satisfactory condition and unharmed.
Police said they contacted the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.