Authorities: 4 Missouri kids found in windowless rooms

Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018|9:51 a.m.

FARMINGTON, Mo.– Police responding to a call to a child abuse hotline at a southeast Missouri house discovered four children obviously being kept behind plywood in makeshift spaces with no access to water or toilets, inning accordance with a county constable.

St. Francois County constable’s officers and private investigators with the Missouri Department of Social Solutions discovered the 3 women and one young boy, in between the ages of 5 and 12, on Tuesday in a house in Farmington, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) south of St. Louis.

“As soon as detectives got entry into the home, they found a 38-year-old female removing screws from plywood covering the entryway to little spaces and children coming out from behind the plywood,” the sheriff stated in a news release.

A man and woman who resided in the house, Daryl Justen Head and Laura Elizabeth Cheatham, both 38, were charged with 5 counts of threatening the well-being of a child and three counts of kidnapping. They are being held on $500,000 bond each.

“I’ve seen some quite nasty things, but nothing this terrible,” stated St. Francois Constable Daniel Bullock. “This is the kind of thing that occurs somewhere else, not here.”

Bullock described each space as “smaller sized than a jail cell.” He stated they had actually been modified from 2 bed rooms and offered no windows, lighting, or access to toilets or water. It appeared the kids urinated into vents in the space, he stated.

St. Francois County District attorney Jerrod Mahurin said the couple could face more charges after preliminary examinations are total.

Bullock said the kids appeared to be in “fairly good” shape and were taken into state custody. They had actually formerly been adopted by Cheatham and her separated husband and had resided in the home for a few weeks, he stated. Next-door neighbors informed KMOV that they in some cases saw the kids outside doing manual labor.

Head and Cheatham were being held in lieu of $500,000 bail each.

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