Couple arrested after malnourished, filthy children found in cage

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Deputies on Tuesday discovered two malnourished children crammed into a locked dog cage and two more smeared with feces and urine in a barn in North Texas, in what a sheriff described as the worst case of child abuse he has ever seen.

Deputies say they were responding to a domestic violence call when they found the children malnourished and covered in waste. Two of them were locked in a filthy wire dog cage and the other two were partially clothed, smeared in urine and feces, outside the cage.

Police discovered the children Tuesday in clutter and filth, with two in a crate placed in a barn converted into living space, Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said.

The children, who range in ages between one and five years old, were fed by authorities and sent to a hospital to be evaluated. They were all taken to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth.

Andrew Joseph Fabila and Paige Isabow Harkings, both 24, were each charged with four counts of criminal child endangerment.

Neighbors told CBS 11 the couple may have been on the property for three or four weeks, but they had never seen any signs of children living there.

The man was hospitalized for an injury to his face, the NBC affiliate reported.

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"I've not worked [a case] where children are locked inside a dog kennel, and I find that absolutely disgusting", he said.

Two other children, 3 and 1, were also in the residence, Wise County Chief Deputy Craig Johnson said.

Harkings, the children's mother, and was also charged with aggravated assault.

Fabila had to be taken to the hospital for wounds on his face before being charged but was taken to jail after his treatment.

The Rhome incident recalls a case in August 2017 when police said a Missouri couple had locked four children inside makeshift boxes made out of plywood and screws inside a home.

Officials believe that the children had to use vents in the floor for bathrooms. The children were adopted by Cheatham and her estranged husband, the sheriff's department said. They appeared to be in relatively good health.

Jester was not aware there were any children in the home.

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