DALLAS—Four malnourished siblings, all aged 5 or younger, have been placed in foster care after authorities found them hungry and thirsty in a North Texas barn, two locked in a dog cage, and the others smeared with excrement, authorities said Feb. 13.
Law enforcement found the children Tuesday morning while responding to a domestic disturbance call at a property near Rhome, about 20 miles north of Fort Worth.
The three boys and girl were released from a hospital Tuesday evening and placed into foster care, a Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said. The agency did not say if the children have been placed together or split up.
4 malnourished children are in foster care after authorities found 2 of them locked in a dog cage and 2 more smeared with excrement in a North Texas barnhttps://t.co/DowvI4Y0bv
— KTLA (@KTLA) February 13, 2019
— Daniel Jovic (@DanJovicNews) February 13, 2019
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said deputies found the oldest two kids locked in a 3-by-3 foot cage and the other two were filthy and only partially clothed. Akin called it the worst case of child abuse he has seen in his 44-year career.
Paige Isabow Harkings and Andrew Joseph Fabila, who are both 24, were each charged with four counts of criminal child endangerment and were being held in the Wise County Jail. His bond was set at $60,000 Wednesday afternoon, while hers was set at $75,000.
OMG – this kind of insane mistreatment of children happens in our country. Once again “you need a license to go fishing but any sob moron sick mf’er can have a baby” https://t.co/UzInL7o2sD
— J E Browne (@effiedog) February 13, 2019
Harkings was also charged with aggravated assault, and Fabila was taken to an area hospital to have “numerous lacerations on his face” treated before being jailed, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. She is the mother to all four children, while he is the father of one, according to authorities.
The 4-year-old girl and the boys, aged 5, 3, and 1, are “doing OK,” according to Department of Family and Protective Services spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales. She declined to share details of their condition and treatment.
— WPEC CBS12 News (@CBS12) February 13, 2019
Akin said the children were starving and that a plentiful supply of food had been locked inside cabinets and a refrigerator in the barn. Deputies fed the kids and gave them water before taking them to the hospital, according to the sheriff’s office.
Law enforcement and Department of Family and Protective Services staff are still investigating the case, Gonzales said.
— Newz Parot (@NewzParot) February 13, 2019
How to Report Suspected Child Maltreatment
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, contact your local child protective services office or law enforcement agency so officials can investigate and assess the situation. Most states have a number to call to report abuse or neglect.
To find out where to call, consult the State Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Numbers website.
The Childhelp organization also can provide crisis assistance and other counseling and referral services. Contact them at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).
“Every year more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies involving more than 6.6 million children (a referral can include multiple children),” according to Childhelp.