Texas sheriff: 2 malnourished children found in dog cage; 2 adults arrested

Andrew Fabila and Paige Harkings

Four malnourished siblings, all aged 5 or younger, have been placed in foster care after authorities found them hungry and thirsty in a North Texas barn, two locked in a dog cage and the others smeared with excrement, authorities said Wednesday.

Deputies responded to a "shop-type" outbuilding near Rhome, which lies about 25 miles northwest of Fort Worth, after receiving a call around 7:20 a.m. reporting "some sort of physical altercation or argument", Johnson said.

Upon searching the property, deputies found the two children inside the dog kennel, along with two other children that were also showing signs of malnourishment.

Deputies said during the investigation, they found that there was food inside the home, but it was locked up so that it couldn't be reached by the children.

Akin said Harkings is the biological mother of all four children, and Fabila is the biological father of one child.

The Star-Telegram identified the adults as Paige Harkins and Andrew Joseph Fabila, both 24 years old.

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'This is at the top of the list of worst cases as far as children and how they're kept, how well they're kept, taken care of, ' Wise County Chief Deputy Craig Johnson told NBCDFW. The two oldest children were locked inside of a dog cage. The mother Paige Isabow Harkings was also charged with aggravated assault. A hospital spokeswoman declined to disclose their conditions.

The parents of the children had been fighting and the man had cuts to his face, Akin said. They were taken to a hospital for evaluation.

According to Sheriff Lane Akin, the man's face was covered in scratches when authorities arrived on the scene.

Neighbor Amber Jester said she wasn't even aware there were any children living there.

'They were positioned in a manner where those small children would not have access. "You'd think that, being right across the street we would know something", she told CBS Dallas. But you don't know.

Law enforcement and Department of Family and Protective Services staff are still investigating the case, Gonzales said.

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