O'FALLON, Mo. (KMOV) – A man and a woman were charged Friday after police allegedly found their 6-year-old autistic child locked in a make-shift cage in the basement of their O’Fallon, Mo. home.
Victoria and Terry Smith were both charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a child.
Police said on Dec. 15, 2010, officers got an anonymous tip about an endangered child at a home on Half Moon Dr.
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Police said upon their arrival, officers found the couple’s 6-year-old autistic child sitting in urine and feces without clothes on in a make-shift cage in the basement.
According to police, the cage had a plywood top and was held together with zip ties, tension straps and bungee cords. It was about 3 feet tall, 3 feet wide and 6 feet long and took several responders to break it.
According to the court documents, the parents were not home when police arrived. Police said the 6-year-old and five siblings ranging from 11 months old to 8 years old were left with an older relative recovering from a stroke. The relative told officers it was difficult for her to take proper care of the children.
Police said other areas of the home were completely unsanitary.
They said door knobs to the children’s rooms were installed backward so they could be locked from the outside. The siblings also said they were rarely allowed to play with the autistic child, who they say was locked in the cage most of the time.
The children also told police they had fed the child hot dogs and chicken nuggets through the bars of the cage.