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Couple Arrested For Keeping Four Adopted Children In Plywood Boxes

A Missouri couple has been arrested after it was discovered that they kept four children locked up in plywood boxes for weeks. The children were adopted by the woman and her estranged husband, but she and her boyfriend were living in the home together when they built the makeshift prisons out of plywood an screws. Police were shocked by the 'deplorable' conditions of the home, and the neglect the children suffered.

Police investigated after a call came in to Missouri's Child Abuse Hotline. The anonymous person reported that they had seen the children doing manual labor outside, including tasks not normally suitable for children. One task the children were spotted doing was sawing plywood.

The neighbor suspected abuse was going on in the Farmington home, and police were dispatched to investigate. The police arrived at the home of 38-year-old Laura Cheatham and her boyfriend, 38-year-old Daryl J. Head, who owned the home. Initially, the couple refused to allow the police to enter. The police forced their way into the home.

Once the police were finally able to get inside the home, they discovered Chetham trying to unscrew a plywood box. They then witnessed a child scurry out and hide. As police began removing the plywood, more children began crawling out-- three girls and one boy, ranging in ages 6 through 12 years old.

The kids were being held captive in the 'specially constructed' home-made boxes and did not have access to water, restrooms or windows, according to the officers. Child were urinating in vents in the floor. The house reeked of urine, officers said. The way the plywood was screwed together, there was no way for the children to get out or for anyone to get in to them without using tools.

"I've seen some pretty nasty things, but nothing this deplorable," said St. Francois County Sheriff Daniel Bullock to reporters.

The couple were arrested Tuesday and each has been charged with four counts of child endangerment and kidnapping. Their bond was set at $2 million each. If convicted, they could be sentenced to decades in jail.

The children are not related to either adult, but were adopted previously by Cheatham and her estranged husband. Two of the children are related to each other.

The children were examined and are thankfully in good physical health. The children have been given to the Missouri Children's Division.

Most neighbors in the area said they had no idea of the horrific abuse that was going on inside the home.

"It does make you feel a little bit bad that that was going on across the street from you, and you don't suspect it," said one neighbor.

“When you see a case like this, and you see the conditions the children were living in, even for a day it was way too long," said prosecuting attorney Jerrod Mahurin to WLWT.

"So the fact that they may have been there for weeks, or may have been there for any extended period of time, our sole concern now is to make sure that they are protected and taken care of, and obviously to seek justice of the people putting them in those conditions."

Source: Yahoo
Photos: St. Francis County Police Department, KMOV Screenoshot

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