updated 6/12/2007 10:44:07 PM ET 2007-06-13T02:44:07

When some restaurant workers in Ringgold, Ga., saw a man take a young boy outside, and return without him to finish eating, they got suspicious.

Police responded, and found the crying six-year-old boy tied up in a sweltering car outside the restaurant. Police think he was tied up for about 30 minutes, while his mother and her companion finished eating inside the restaurant near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

A police sergeant says the boy ”had a rope tied to one of his ankles.” He says he was ”just sweating, just soaking.”

The outdoor temperature on Saturday was in the 80s.

The boy’s mother and her male companion were charged with cruelty to children and with concealing a weapon. Police found a handgun in the car.

The mother is still in custody. The man has been released on bond.

Police say the couple told them the boy had misbehaved, although witnesses disagree. Either way, police say, it doesn’t matter.

The boy is now in state protective custody.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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