Ohio Children Found in 'Deplorable' Conditions Without Parents Upon Authorities Search of Home: Authorities

Wanted poster with Franklin “TJ” Varney, (L) and Megan Smith (R)
Hocking County Sheriff's Department

When Ohio authorities entered a home for a sexual assault investigation, they discovered two children under the age of 4 in what they called 'deplorable' conditions.

On Sunday, when Ohio law enforcement entered a home to exercise a search warrant in connection with a sexual assault investigation, they discovered a 3-year-old locked in a cage and a 2-year-old holding drug paraphernalia, according to authorities.

The 3-year-old child was locked inside a cage that was secured with zip ties, according to authorities. The cage was filled with bugs, soiled bedding, and a cup full of spoiled milk, according to a statement from the Hocking County Sheriff's Office.

A 2-year-old was found walking around the home, described as being in "deplorable condition," holding a methamphetamine pipe, according to the statement. 

Sixty-one-year-old Ella Webb, the grandmother of both children who had full custody, has been taken into custody at Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office Jail and charged with endangering children, according to local outlet WBNS. 

Webb pleaded not guilty in Hocking County Municipal Court on Monday, and is being held on a $200,000 bond, according to the outlet. 

According to authorities, the parents of the children, Franklin “TJ” Varney, 38, and Megan Smith, 25, left the children and fled the scene due to their connection to the sexual assault investigation.

Both children were safely taken into emergency custody with the assistance of South Central Ohio Job and Family Services and placed in emergency foster care, the sheriff's office said.

Child endangerment charges were filed against both parents by the Hocking County Sheriff's Office with nationwide arrest warrants requested from the court, according to the statement. 

“I very, very strongly encourage Mr. Varney and Ms. Smith to immediately surrender themselves to law enforcement,” Hocking County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Caleb Moritz said in the statement.

“If they choose to run from their responsibilities, as they did tonight, the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office will tirelessly leverage every local, state and federal resource available to bring these two to justice.”

The sheriff's office asks that anyone with information call 740-385-2131 or send an anonymous text message to 740-380-HCSO.

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