Officials: Parents Locked Autistic Child In Cage

7:17 AM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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St. Charles County, MO (KSDK) -- The St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney's Office charged an O'Fallon couple for allegedly keeping their six-year-old child locked in a cage in their basement.

According to Debra Teson, a spokeswoman for the county prosecuting attorney's office, members of the O'Fallon Police Department, Department of Social Services - Children's Division, and the St. Charles County Ambulance District responded to an anonymous tip to the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline on December 15, 2010.

The tipster said the child was often caged by his parents when not with a government-funded care provider.

Authorities went to the couple's home on Half Moon Drive and discovered the child naked, sitting in his own urine and feces, in a makeshift cage with plywood top that was secured with zip ties, tension straps and bungee cords. The cage measured approximately three-feet tall, three-feet wide and six-feet long. 

The child's parents, Victoria and Terry Smith, were not at home when authorities arrived at the house. The six-year-old and his five siblings had been left in the care of an older relative who was recovering from a stroke. The older relative told police it was difficult for her to care for the children. 

Conditions in the home were cluttered and unsanitary, Teson said. Door knobs on the children's rooms had been installed backwards so they could be locked from the outside.

The autistic child's siblings, who range in ages 11 months to eight years, told authorities they were rarely allowed to play with the child and that they would often feed him hot dogs and chicken nuggets through the bars of the cage. 

Victoria and Terry Smith were each charged with one count of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child. 

The couple now lives in Elsberry in Lincoln County.

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