A Texas couple faces child endangerment charges after four malnourished children were found covered in feces and urine, including a 4- and 5-year-old locked in a 3-by-3 foot dog kennel. Deputies made the discovery at a home in rural Wise County while responding to a domestic disturbance Tuesday morning. While speaking with Paige Harkings and Andrew Fabila, who had numerous scratches on his face, deputies reported hearing voices from within a metal outbuilding, reports NBC 5. The children—aged 1, 3, 4, and 5—were found inside in conditions Sheriff Lane Akin describes as "absolutely disgusting," per Dallas News. All four were hungry and thirsty, though "the refrigerator and the cabinets had been locked so the kids could not get in to get food," he says. WFAA describes "feces scattered throughout the house."
"This is at the top of the list of worst cases, as far as children," says Chief Deputy Craig Johnson. "When you find them ... covered in fecal material, no food readily available to them, didn't appear to have been cared for, it's unacceptable. It's bad." Neighbors tell NBC 5 the couple had only been at the property for a couple of weeks. Child Protective Services acknowledges previous contact with the family at a different address. It said Tuesday that the children would be placed in foster care upon release from a Fort Worth hospital, where they were taken to be examined. Fabila, father to one, was also taken to a hospital before joining Harkings, mother of all four, at the Wise County Jail. The 24-year-olds each face four counts of child endangerment. Harkings is also charged with aggravated assault. (A Tennessee woman allegedly put her grandkids in a kennel in her trunk.)