Four malnourished siblings, aged five or under, were taken to care facilities after the authorities found them hungry and thirsty in a stable in the north of Texas, two were locked in a dog cage and the others were smeared with excrement, the authorities said.
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The police found the children on Tuesday morning when they responded to a call to a property near Rhome, about 32 kilometers north of Fort Worth.
The three boys and girls were released from a hospital on Tuesday night and placed in foster homes, a division for family and protection services in Texas said. The agency did not say if the children were assembled or split.
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said the deputies found the eldest two children locked in a 3 x 3 foot cage (90 x 90 cm) and the other two were filthy and 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, both 24 years old, were each charged with four cases of child criminality and held in Wise County Prison. His bond was valued at $ 60,000 on Wednesday afternoon, while theirs was $ 75,000.
Harkings was also charged with severe assault and Fabila was taken to a local hospital to receive "numerous facial lacerations" before being imprisoned, the sheriff's office said in a statement. She is the mother of all four children, while according to authorities he is the father of a child.
The 4-year-old girl and boys aged 5, 3 and 1 are fine, according to Marissa Gonzales, spokeswoman for the Family and Protection Services Department. She declined to provide details about her condition and her treatment.
Akin said the children were starving and that plenty of food was trapped in cupboards and a fridge in the barn. The deputies fed the children and gave them water before they were taken to the hospital, according to the sheriff's office.
Law enforcement and the Department of Family and Protection Services are still investigating the case, Gonzales said.
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