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Couple charged with locking children inside small, windowless boxes

FARMINGTON, Mo. -- A man and woman have been charged after children were found in their Farmington home confined inside small windowless boxes, officials told KTVI.

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

The homeowner, Daryl Head, 38, initially hesitated to allow deputies inside the home. When officials entered, they saw Laura Cheatem, 38, unscrewing the plywood on the boxes as a 6-year-old boy was seen inside the box.

“These were boxes actually built within the house in the room with no restroom facilities, no water, they did have an air pipe in there so there was some air conditioning and plywood was screwed over them where no one could get out or anybody could get in,” Sheriff Dan Bullock, St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies said the kids are Cheatem's adopted children. Two of the four children are related.

“When you see a case like this and you see the conditions these kids are living in even for a day, it was way too long, so the fact that they may have been there for weeks or may have been there for any extended period of time our sole concern now is to make sure they are protected and taken care of and to obviously seek justice for the people who were putting them on those conditions,” said Jerrold Mahurin, Prosecuting Attorney.

Both suspects face four counts each of child endangerment and kidnapping and are being held on $500,000 bond.