A Wisconsin couple was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, child neglect and false imprisonment after authorities said they kept their children in cages.
Travis Lanier Headrick, 46, and Amy Michelle Headrick, 39, were charged by Monroe County authorities on nine felony counts and ordered not to have contact with the children.
On Monday afternoon, authorities searched the couple’s home in the village of Melvina after they received a complaint about children being locked in cages and a horse trough in a residence, according to the criminal complaint. Authorities also received a photo of small boy in a horse trough with metal fencing as the cover, secured with zip ties. They said they were informed that five children were in the house, four of whom were adopted and one who was a biological child.
Three detectives searched the home and one described what he saw in the complaint.
"I noticed a child in a horse trough with metal fencing over the top of the trough secured with zip ties," Detective John Brose of Monroe County said. "There was also a child in a locked cage on what appeared to be a double stacked cage."
The children had soiled themselves in these cages, the complaint said, and almost all of the doors of the house had alarm systems. The children were allegedly not allowed to leave the house other than on Sunday for church.
A deputy said he had to cut the zip ties off the horse trough to free one of the children.
When authorities questioned Amy Headrick, according to the complaint, she asserted she was a good mother and was trying to protect her children.
She told authorities, the complaint said, that the child in the horse trough had been put there because he smeared his feces on walls and furniture, which had been attracting maggots, and she was "creating a membrane that is washable."
"I didn’t want to put him in a bathtub and make him sleep in the bathroom," the complaint quoted her as saying, "so I thought this was something I could wash and take out for him."
A babysitter who said she had been working with the couple since March 2018, Monday through Friday, described the conditions to detectives, the complaint said.
Brose said in the complaint that the babysitter told him she was instructed to unlock the cages in the morning and to put the children back in the cages later. He said the babysitter expressed fear that the couple's daughter would report her to the mother, Amy Headrick, if she didn't do as she was told and that the former babysitter had "quit because she was fed up with it."
The couple were arrested and a $20,000 bond was set on Monday. A trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 6. If convicted, the couple faces up to 10 years and $25,000 in fines for each of the seven reckless endangerment and neglect charges and up to six years and $10,000 for each of the two false imprisonment charges.
The Headricks had attorneys present at their bond hearings, according to the Monroe County Clerks Office, but it is unclear whether they have retained attorneys to represent them.