Mom Allegedly Bought Kid-Sized Prison Uniforms for 4 Children Kept in Windowless Sealed Boxes
A Missouri couple is accused of imprisoning four children — all under the age of 13 — in small, crudely constructed wooden boxes with no light and no bathroom access, PEOPLE confirms.
The children, according to police, were found in good health and likely lived in the home under those conditions for at least two weeks. The victims are between the 5 and 12 years old and include one boy and three girls, according to authorities.
The kids’ adoptive mother, a former corrections officer named Laura Cheatham, stands accused with Daryl Head of multiple counts each of kidnapping and endangering the welfare of a child.
The suspects, both 38, have yet to enter pleas and their attorneys could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, St. Francois Sheriff Daniel Bullock detailed the allegations against them.
“I’ve seen some pretty nasty things, but nothing this deplorable,” Bullock said. “This is the kind of thing that happens somewhere else, not here.”
The boxes the children were kept in were “smaller than a jail cell” and lacked windows and plumbing, the sheriff said. Cheatham allegedly even ordered child-sized prison uniforms for her four children to wear.
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An anonymous tip led investigators to the couple’s door on Tuesday.
Head, at first, refused to allow police into their home in Farmington, Bullock said. After officers made their way inside, they allegedly saw Cheatham removing screws — used to keep the box openings securely shut. From inside emerged the four children.
The couple remain in police custody in lieu of $2 million bail.
The state has assumed guardianship of the children.