Parents Arrested After 3-Year-Old Found in Cage 'Filled With Bugs'

Two parents were recently arrested after their 3-year-old child was found locked inside a cage that was "filled with bugs," according to a local sheriff's office.

In a Facebook post on Monday night, the Hocking County Sheriff's Office in Ohio announced that 38-year-old Franklin "TJ" Varney and 25-year-old Megan Smith were taken into custody 
"after they were chased by law enforcement on foot through the woods near their residence."

The arrest comes shortly after deputies with the Hocking County Sheriff's Office arrived at the couple's residence which was part of a sexual assault investigation.

Police Line
Police tape hangs across the street in front of the house that Dennis Rader lives in February 26, 2005, in Park City, Kansas. On Monday, September 19, 2022, the Hocking County Sheriff's Office arrested two parents after their 3-year-old child was found locked in a cage filled with bugs. Larry W. Smith/Getty Images

When deputies entered the residence, located on Bear Run Road, they discovered that it was left in "deplorable condition" with a 3-year-old child locked in a cage with zip ties. "The cage that the infant was in was filled with bugs, soiled bedding, and a cup full of spoiled milk," the sheriff's office said in the press release.

In addition to the 3-year-old child, deputies also discovered a 2-year-old child walking around the home "holding a methamphetamine pipe."

A spokesperson for the Hocking County Sheriff's Office confirmed to Newsweek that the two children were transported to an emergency foster care center.

"The parents of the infants left the children and fled the residence due to their involvement with the sexual assault investigation," the press release said. According to the sheriff's office, after the parents fled the scene, deputies discovered that the children's grandmother was in custody of the children, prompting officers to detain her.

The grandmother, identified by the sheriff's office as 61-year-old Ella Webb, was "arrested and charged with Endangering Children, a 3rd Degree Felony," the press release said.

"She was transported to the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office Jail to await her arraignment in Hocking County Municipal Court," the sheriff's office said.

Shortly after the parents fled the residence, law enforcement officials filed third-degree felony charges of child endangerment for both the parents and nationwide arrest warrants were issued.

Prior to their capture, Hocking County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Caleb J. Moritz urged the parents to surrender themselves and said, "if they choose to run from their responsibilities, as they did tonight, the Hocking County Sheriff's Office will tirelessly leverage every local, State, and Federal resource available to bring these two to justice."

A somewhat similar incident occurred in Texas earlier this year when officials with the San Antonio Police Department arrested a woman after discovering that her 1-year-old female child was hogtied. A 2-year-old child was also found in the Texas residence, located in a playpen that was covered similar to a cage, law enforcement officials said at the time.