Four malnourished siblings, all aged 5 or younger, have been placed in foster care after authorities found them hungry and thirsty in a North Texas barn, two locked in a dog cage and the others smeared with excrement, authorities said Wednesday.
However, he told The Dallas Morning News that deputies found the children while responding to a domestic disturbance call near Rhome, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Fort Worth.
CNN affiliate KTVT reported that the two oldest children, ages 5 and 4, were the ones locked in dog crates.
The newspaper reports that while speaking to the man and woman about a possible family violence situation, a deputy heard children inside the home.
The children were taken into the custody of Child Protective Services to be evaluated.
Wise County jail records show Andrew Joseph Fabila and Paige Isabow Harkings are each charged with four counts of criminal child endangerment. However, they were inside of locked cabinets with no way for the children to unlock them.
"The others appeared malnourished, covered in urine and faeces", Sheriff Akin said.
Paige Harkings is the biological mother of the children and her boyfriend, Andrew Fabila, is the biological father of one child, according to authorities.
The Wise County Sheriff's Department told reporters that responding deputies found a man with cuts to his face and spoke to the couple about the incident. The two oldest children were locked inside of a dog cage.
The children were taken to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth for evaluation. Deputies fed the kids and gave them water before taking them to the hospital, according to the sheriff's office.
"I've seen some pretty nasty things, but nothing this deplorable", said St. Francois Sheriff Daniel Bullock, KMOV-TV reported.
Officials believe that the children had to use vents in the floor for bathrooms.
Neighbor Amber Jester said she wasn't even aware there were any children living there. They appeared to be in relatively good health.