Children Found Locked in 'Boxes' Secured With Plywood; 2 Arrested

38-year-old Daryl Justen Head and 38-year-old Laura Elizabeth Cheatham have each been charged with 5 Counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child Creating Substantial Risk 1st Degree and 3 Counts of Kidnapping 2nd Degree

A couple have been accused of using plywood and screws to trap their four children in boxes, with police fearing they may have been trapped in the deplorable conditions for weeks.

The adoptive mother at the center of a child abuse case in Farmington wanted her four children to wear prison uniforms, the St. Francois County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday. The man initially would not open the door to police, and when officers entered, they found the woman removing screws and plywood that covered the entrance to several rooms, KMOV-TV reports. No plumbing. The kids might have used floor vents for restroom purposes, authorities suggested.

Deputies say three girls and a boy ranging from 6 to 12 years old were found inside the 5-by-7-foot boxes.

Laura Cheatham, 38, and Daryl J. Head, 38, were detained by deputies of the St. Francois County Sheriff's Department, who responded to an anonymous tip on Tuesday of possible child mistreatment in a Farmington home in the state of Missouri.

"Reactive attachment disorders can be really challenging for parents", said Dr. Jennifer Ladage, a SLUCare pediatrician at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital.

"You do see it a lot in children from foster care and adopted children because of that early life experience, you know, neglect, multiple caregivers", she said.

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"I've seen some pretty nasty things, but nothing this deplorable", St. Francois Sheriff Daniel Bullock stated. "This is the kind of thing that happens somewhere else, not here".

The children have been placed in protective custody, according to the Missouri Children's Division.

News 4 learned that Cheatham was an employee at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre.

A couple has been charged with eight counts of child endangerment and kidnapping for allegedly trapped four children in plywood boxes inside a Missouri home. Their bond is set for $500,000 for each count.

The charges could put the suspects behind bars for decades, prosecuting attorney Jerrod Mahurin said.

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