A Washington state couple is facing charges of criminal mistreatment after they allegedly locked their two autistic children in a caged room.
KPTV in Portland reports that Vancouver, Washington residents Alayna Higdon and John Eckhart were arrested after officers responding to a welfare check found the children, a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old, locked in a bedroom that had a caged door.
According to the police report, the children in the room were left with only a dirty mattress and no blankets, clothes or toys.
When asked by police why they shut the children in the room, Alayna Higdon said they kept them in a cage "because they are autistic, it's the only way to contain them."
When police caught up to John Eckhart, they say he told them, "What am I supposed to do, let them run around the house and get into everything? What kind of [expletive] parenting is that?"
The officer who found the kids writes in the report that as he got close to the cage, they were reaching out to him and making moaning noises. As he came closer, he reported smelling a strong odor of urine in their diapers.
Officers described the house as very dirty with garbage piled up, dirty dishes laying in the sink and only pizza and soda in the refrigerator.
The couple had two other children, a 9-year-old and an 11-month-old, who were not shut in the bedroom. All of the children were taken by Child Protective Services and placed in foster care.
A CPS spokesperson told reporters that the couple has not had any prior incidents with CPS but officials received a report in February from police that the family seemed overwhelmed and might need help. No criminal investigation came as a result of the report and there's no mention in the article whether they received any kind of help.
Higdon and Eckhart remain in the Clark County Jail.