Texas couple jailed after children found neglected

Daryl Justen Head and Laura Elizabeth Cheatham

A mother and her boyfriend were arrested after police responding to a domestic disturbance call in Texas found four malnourished children in a home - two of them locked in a dog crate, authorities said.

Deputies in Rhome were called to the scene Tuesday morning after a report of domestic violence.

Food was also found inside the home but it had been locked away and out of the reach of the children, WFAA reported, adding that deputies fed the children before they were sent to the hospital.

As authorities were tending to the two adults, deputies found four children aged five, four, three and one in a condition that Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin described as "beyond neglected".

Paige Isabow Harkings and Andrew Joseph Fabila, who are both 24, were each charged with four counts of criminal child endangerment and were being held in the Wise County Jail.

The oldest two were locked in the cage that was just three-by-three feet (90-by-90 cm), and the other two were filthy and only partially clothed, Akin said. Harkings also is charged with one aggravated assault count.

Two of the children were found locked in a cage in a barn on the family's rural property.

"The others appeared malnourished, covered in urine and feces", Akin said, the Wise County Messenger reported.

The children were transported to Cook Children's in Fort Worth for treatment.

'This is at the top of the list of worst cases as far as children and how they're kept, how well they're kept, taken care of, ' Wise County Chief Deputy Craig Johnson told NBCDFW.

The Wise County Sheriff's Department told reporters that responding deputies found a man with cuts to his face and spoke to the couple about the incident.

Akin said the suspects, who have not been identified, are facing four counts each of endangering a child.

He says the children's parents were home and that they had been fighting. They were taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Law enforcement and Department of Family and Protective Services staff are still investigating the case, Gonzales said.

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