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‘Malnourished’ children found locked in kennel on Wise County property, parents charged – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

What there is to know

  • Four children found in a makeshift home, covered in excrement and apparently malnourished. Two of the children were locked in a wire-mesh dog cage.
  • Police found the children after being called to the residence following a fight or domestic disturbance.
  • Mother of four and father of one, both charged with child endangerment.

North Texas deputies discovered four young children in a “neglected state” on Tuesday, apparently malnourished and covered in feces and urine, living in an outhouse in rural Wise County. According to deputies, two of the children were being held in a small locked kennel. Their mother and the father of one of the four children now face child endangerment charges.

Wise County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to a domestic incident at a residence described by Sheriff’s Deputies as a barn or store-type metal outbuilding near County Road 4930 at approximately 7:15 a.m.

NBC News 5

Paige Harkings, passport photo

NBC News 5

Andrew Joseph Fabila, passport photo.

Deputies arrived to find a man, identified by police as 24-year-old Andrew Joseph Fabila, with a number of scratches on his face. While chatting with Fabilia and her partner, Paige Harkings, 24, deputies reported hearing children’s voices coming from a makeshift living space inside the outhouse.

Wise County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy Craig Johnson said deputies went to check on the children and found four children, ages 5, 4, 3 and 1, living in what deputies described as “dirty” and “cluttered” living conditions.

North Texas deputies discovered four young children in a “neglected condition” in rural Wise County on Tuesday; two of the children were being held in a small locked kennel.

Four young Wise County children who were found malnourished, dirty and living in a “neglected state”, were to be transferred from a Fort Worth hospital to foster care on Tuesday evening. Still, child abuse experts say they will likely face many years of treatment and therapy to overcome the apparent abuse.

Investigators said the children all share the same mother and that Fabila is the father of only one of them.

The two oldest children were found locked in a simple, wired, 3ft by 3ft kennel, one on a blanket and the other on a small toddler bed; the other two children were only partially clothed and all were described by deputies as unkempt and in a “neglected state”.

“Locking a child, at any time, in a dog crate is unacceptable. When you find them in the condition they were found in today, covered in feces, with no food available to them, they didn’t appear to have any treated. It’s unacceptable. It’s wrong,” Johnson said.

Craig Johnson, Deputy Chief of the Wise County Sheriff’s Department, speaks about four malnourished young children found in a home near Rhome, February 12, 2019.

Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said that when deputies found them, all of the children were hungry and thirsty and that “there was plenty of food inside the barn but the refrigerator and cupboards had been locked so children could not come in to get food.”

“There was a refrigerator in the residence, but there were three straps on it that acted as locking devices to keep people out. have no access,” Johnson said.

The deputies gave food and water to all the children, who were all considered small for their age and malnourished. They were then taken to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth for tests.

Fabila was treated at Wise Regional Hospital in Decatur for facial lacerations before joining Harkings at Wise County Jail where they were each sentenced on four counts of child endangerment. Harkings was also charged with aggravated assault causing grievous bodily harm for the cuts to Fabila’s face. The couple were arraigned Wednesday morning and posted $15,000 bond each on each charge.

Neighbors told NBC 5 they had no idea there were children in the space and that the man and woman only started using the space a few weeks ago.

Deepak Andhikari works at a convenience store in nearby Newark. He said Fabila bought him gas around 9 p.m. on Monday.

“He had all the wounds on his face. That’s why I recognize his face,” Andhikari said.

Child Protective Services confirmed to NBC 5 that they had previously made contact with the parents at a different address and are investigating this latest incident. The CPS said on Tuesday afternoon that the children were being discharged from hospital and would be placed in foster care.

Johnson said he had no immediate knowledge of his department having had prior contact with the family.

Some neighbors who live near the metal shop where four children were discovered locked up on Tuesday said they had no idea the building even served as a home for someone.

Two young children were found locked in a kennel near Rhome, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office said according to the Wise County Messenger.

North Texas deputies discovered four young children in a “neglected condition” in rural Wise County on Tuesday; two of the children were being held in a small locked kennel.

NBC 5’s Seth Voorhees, Maria Guerrero, Frank Heinz, Meredith Yeomans, Allie Spillyards, Scott Gordon and Eline De Bruijn contributed to this report.

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