Parents, grandma arrested after toddler found locked in bug-infested cage

·News Reporter
·2-min read

When conducting a search warrant on a house, detectives found a three-year-old locked inside a bug-infested cage and a two-year-old with a meth pipe.

The horrifying discovery was made on Sunday (local time) by detectives who were executing the warrant on the home in the US state of Ohio, in relation to a sexual assault investigation.

When entering the residence which was described as being in deplorable condition, police located a three-year-old child locked inside a cage, which was secured with zip ties, according to the Hocking County Sheriff's Office Facebook page.

A photo of the parents of two toddlers who have been arrested and charged with child endangerment in Ohio, US. Source: Facebook / Hocking County Sheriff's Office
The parents of two toddlers have been arrested and charged with child endangerment in Ohio, US. Source: Facebook / Hocking County Sheriff's Office

The cage the three-year-old was in was filled with bugs, soiled bedding, and a cup full of spoiled milk.

A two-year-old was also found walking around the residence holding a methamphetamine pipe.

Following the grim discovery, the grandmother Ella Webb, 61, who has custody of the children, was detained and taken into custody for child endangerment.

However the parents, Franklin “TJ” Varney, 38, and Megan Smith, 25, fled the scene due to their involvement with the sexual assault investigation, leaving the children all alone.

Hocking County Sheriff’s Office posted a message to the parents on Facebook from Chief Deputy Caleb J. Moritz, and for anyone else who might have seen them.

“I very, very strongly encourage Mr. Varney and Ms. Smith to immediately surrender themselves to law enforcement," he 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.”

The following day, an update was posted that law enforcement officers managed to chase down the parents on foot through the woods near the house.

They were taken into custody the following day for child endangerment charges.

The children were able to be safely taken into emergency custody with the assistance of South Central Ohio Job And Family Services and placed in emergency foster care.

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