Couple charged with locking children inside small, windowless boxes

10 Août, 2018, 01:21 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Daryl Justen Head and Laura Elizabeth Cheatham.
Police Handout

Two people are charged with endangering the welfare of a child and kidnapping after police said they were keeping four children in dark rooms behind plywood.

Police said they received a tip from a child abuse hotline and went to the home on the 100 block of Meadowbrook Drive in Farmington to investigate. Investigators with this department took custody of the uniforms from officials at Farmington Correctional Center along with cardboard patterns that are marked "kids pants", "kids shirt", etc., and work order documentation. When officials entered, they saw Laura Cheatem, 38, unscrewing the plywood on the boxes as a 6-year-old boy was seen inside the box.

The children resorted to going to the bathroom in vents in the floor, according to authorities. They're accused of trapping the children in boxed rooms secured with plywood and screws inside of their "deplorable" home.

Laura Cheatham and the homeowner, Daryl Head, both 38, were taken into custody on suspicion of eight counts of child endangerment and three counts of second-degree kidnapping. It is alleged that Cheatham told the offender in charge of the clothing division that the uniforms, "Were for her kids".

"I've seen some pretty nasty things, but nothing this deplorable", St. Francois Sheriff Daniel Bullock told the outlet.

Neighbors said they witnessed the children performing manual labor "frequently", according to KMOV. "This is the kind of thing that happens somewhere else, and not here".

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The rooms in which the children, ages of 5-12 years old, were being held were described as "specially constructed" rooms with no windows or lighting.

Head and Cheatham are each being held on $500,000 bail.

Investigators said the children appeared to be in relatively good health, and officers believe they were at the house for a couple weeks.

The four children have been placed in the care of Missouri's Children's Division.

St. Francois County Prosecutor Jerrod Mahurin said the couple could face more charges after initial investigations are complete.

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