Oklahoma cop Jody Thompson wasn't even on duty when the child abuse call came in, but he nonetheless rushed to help.
The sight that awaited him was horrific: An 8-year-old boy, with his wrists bound, had been submerged to his chin in a 55-gallon drum brimming with ice water.
The child weighed just 61 pounds, and his body was covered in wounds.
"He did not have a spot on him that didn't have a bruise or abrasion," Thompson told InsideEdition.com Tuesday. "I've never seen nothing like this.
From that moment on, Thompson vowed to take care of the boy, whose name was John.
He covered the battered child in a blanket, took him to an Oklahoma child advocacy center so detectives with the Poteau Police Department could take photos of his disfigured body, and then transported him to a hospital.
“I sat with him, Thompson said. “I knew I couldn't let him out of my sight."
John doesn't remember much about that time, he said, except feeling very hungry.
The officer decided he would become a foster parent, and that he would raise John as his own son.
A few days later, he brought John home. He already had two sons, ages 15 and 8. But John fit right in.
Now 10, he accompanied his dad to a state ceremony last week, where Thompson was commended by the Bureau of Investigations. “I'm happy that I'm living in a familty that is big and loves me," he said.
Thompson’s compassion did not stop with John. While the boy’s biological mother was in prison, she gave birth to a girl. Children’s services workers asked Thompson if he would like provide foster care for the infant as well.
“We literally picked her up in the hospital the next day when she was a day old and brought her straight home,” he said.
He eventually sued to terminate the parental rights of the children’s biological mother and father, who are both in prison.
"Jody’s actions, as well as his family’s, are second to none,” police chief Stephen Fruen said in a statement. “The example of love and compassion he has shown to this young man and his sister is an example everyone should follow.”
Thompson said John recently decided to publicly share his story, in the hopes of helping other abuse victims.
John is doing well, both in school and at home, Thompson said. "He accels," his dad said. "He's the hero in this."
The father and son want people to know that enduring a horrific ordeal doesn't mean you're wounded for life.
"You don't have to let that define you," Thompson said. "W're not going to use that as an excuse or a crutch."