Tennessee deputies discovered a 10-year-old girl with autism locked inside a wooden cage that reeked of feces and urine, authorities said.
The Washington County Sheriff’s officers were conducting a welfare check after receiving reports about an imprisoned child when they found the girl in a bedroom, officials said.
Mickey Sparks, 69, and Patricia Laws, 43, were arrested at the house and charged with aggravated child abuse, said Sheriff Ed Graybeal in a statement Monday.
The couple was identified as the child’s caretakers. Both remain at the Washington County Detention Center in lieu of $50,000 bail each, according to online records.
They have not entered pleas. Both requested public defenders at a Tuesday hearing, according to the Johnston City Press.
Deputies said the home smelled strongly of human waste and that feces appeared to be ground into the carpet and the kitchen’s tile floor, according to court documents, the paper said.
Laws told investigators the girl was locked in the cage to “control” her and that she slept on a mattress at night while locked up, the affidavits said. The couple also told deputies that child welfare workers had approved their use of the wooden box.
Three other children were living in the home, and Department of Children’s Services employees removed all four, authorities said. The social workers told deputies there was no record of their department approving the device, the newspaper reported.