RHOME, Texas – Texas deputies responding to a domestic disturbance call found four malnourished children, two of whom were locked inside a dog crate, Wise County Chief Deputy Craig Johnson said Tuesday.
Deputies responded to a “shop-type” outbuilding near Rhome, which lies about 25 miles northwest of Fort Worth, after receiving a call around 7:20 a.m. reporting “some sort of physical altercation or argument,” Johnson said.
While speaking with a man at the property who had injuries to his face, deputies reported hearing the voices of children.
Investigators found four children inside the residence, “two of which were locked in a dog crate, one was laying on a blanket, one was laying on a toddler bed,” Johnson said. “All of them were filthy, covered in fecal material and appeared to be a in a state of neglect.”
The children are 1, 3, 4 and 5 years old. Johnson said the woman living at the property is the biological mother of all four; the man is the biological father of one.
The Star-Telegram identified the adults as Paige Harkins and Andrew Joseph Fabila, both 24 years old. Deputies arrested Harkins and Fabila on four counts of child endangerment each and took them to the Wise County Jail, Johnson said.
The chief deputy said deputies found a refrigerator in the makeshift residence with three straps on it, positioned so the children couldn’t access it.
Two of the children, a 5-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, were locked inside a 3-by-3 foot kennel, according to the paper.
Neighbors told KXAS they noticed the couple begin to use the building a couple of weeks earlier, but had no idea that there were children living inside. Authorities took the children to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth to be evaluated.
“This is at the top of the list of worst cases, as far as children,” Johnson said, calling the use of the dog crate and lack of care “unacceptable.”