Couple charged with locking children inside small, windowless boxes

Daryl Justen Head and Laura Elizabeth Cheatham.                        Farmington Police Dept. via KMOV-TV

An investigation is ongoing as authorities say a man and woman, both 38, are not related to kids found in a Farmington home where children were confined in small windowless boxes.

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.

"Police took custody of the uniforms from officials at Farmington Correctional Center along with cardboard patterns that are marked "kids pants", 'kids shirt". Ultimately they said they saw Cheatham unscrewing the plywood holding the boxes shut.

The spaces had no plumbing, and officers said they believe the children had to use vents in the floor for bathrooms.

Laura Cheatham was arrested in Missouri on Tuesday alongside Daryl Head after officers found the children, aged five to 12, inside the cells which were sealed with plywood and screws.

Daryl Justen Head, 38, and Laura Cheatham, 38, are both charged with multiple counts of kidnapping and endangering the welfare of a child, CBS St. Louis affiliate KMOV reports.

Deputies said the kids are Cheatem's adopted children. "This is the kind of thing that happens somewhere else, and not here".

St. Francois County Sheriff Daniel Bullock told reporters he feared the children may have been kept in the homemade boxes for weeks.

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

Bullock said the children appeared to be in "fairly good" shape and were taken into state custody. Neighbours told KMOV that they sometimes saw the children outside doing manual labour.

"We are aware of the disturbing report involving a former BJC Behavioral Health employee, Daryl Head, who was employed as a community support specialist from July 2016 to June 2018".

A couple has been charged with eight counts of child endangerment and kidnapping for allegedly trapped four children in plywood boxes inside a Missouri home.

Their bond was set at $2million each.

The charges could put the suspects behind bars for decades, prosecuting attorney Jerrod Mahurin said.

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