An O’Fallon couple is accused of keeping a 6-year-old autistic child in a makeshift cage as he sat in urine and feces.
St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy A. Lohmar announced charges were filed against Victoria and Terry Smith, of O’Fallon, for first-degree endangeríng the welfare of a child.
O’Fallon Police and Department of Social Services representatives visited the house on Half Moon Drive Dec. 15, 2010 in response to an anonymous call to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline.
Officials said they found the 6-year-old autistic child sitting without clothes in urine and feces without clothes in crude cage with a plywood top held together with zip ties, tension straps and bungee cords. The cage was about three feet, three inches tall and six feet long.
The hotline caller said the child often was in the cage when not with a government-funded respite care provider.
The child was left with an older relative who was recovering from a stroke and five other siblings, whose ages ranged from 11 months to 8 years old. The older relative told police it was difficult for her to care for the children.
The Smiths were not at home when police responded and officers could not get in touch with the parents for three hours.
Conditions in the home were unsanitary and cluttered, according to the prosecuting attorney’s news release. Doorknobs to the children’s rooms were installed backwards so they could be locked from the outside.
The six-year-old child's siblings, ranging from 11 months to eight years of age, explained that they were seldom able to play with the caged child and that the child is very often kept in the cage. They explained that they feed the child hot dogs and chicken nuggets through the bars.
Bond was set at $2,500 for both Terry and Victoria Smith. They have been authorized to be released on their own personal recognizance.
To report child abuse or neglect, call 800 392-3738.