Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Missouri children found in plywood boxes

Missouri children found in plywood boxes

Police responding to a call to a child abuse hotline at a southeast Missouri home found four children apparently being kept behind plywood in makeshift rooms with no access to water or toilets, according to a county sheriff.

The St. Francois County Sheriff's Office said officers, along with the Missouri Children's Division Investigators went to a home in the 100 block of Meadowbrook Drive on Tuesday.

The man and woman were taken into police custody.

The children were described as three girls and one boy, between the ages of 5 and 12.

The children's mother, Laura Cheatham along with Daryl Head are charged with five counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child and three counts of 2nd-degree Kidnapping.

"I've seen some pretty nasty things, but nothing this deplorable", St. Francois Sheriff Daniel Bullock told the outlet.

Neighbors have since told police that they regularly saw the children doing manual labor, including sawing plywood they believe was later used to keep them captive. "This is the kind of thing that happens somewhere else, and not here". Children then came out of the spaces, police said.

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The children are only thought to have lived with Cheatham for a few weeks before they were found on Tuesday, after being adopted by her and her estranged husband Richard, who no longer lives at the home.

5 On Your Side discovered Cheatham and Head started a nonprofit previous year created to help children with Reactive Attachment Disorder.

News 4 learned that Cheatham was an employee at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre. They appeared to be in relatively good health.

A couple has been charged with eight counts of child endangerment and kidnapping for allegedly trapped four children in plywood boxes inside a Missouri home. They are being held on US$500,000 bond each.

If convicted as charged, the two could face decades in prison, according to St. Francois County Prosecutor Jerrod Mahurin.

The children are now under the care of Missouri's Children's Division.

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