Caged child found in O’Fallon home
St. Charles Prosecuting Attorney Timothy A. Lohmar announced Friday, March 16, the filing o f charges against Victoria and Terry Smith of O’Fallon for the felony of endangering the welfare of child in the first degree.
The charges stem from more than two years ago when on Dec. 15, 2010, members of the O’Fallon Police Department, Department of Social Services – Children’s Division and the St. Charles County Ambulance District responded to the basement of a residence in Half Moon Drive, in O’Fallon, after an anonymous call was placed to the Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline. Responders said they found the couple’s 6-year-old autistic child sitting in urine and feces without clothes in a make-shift cage with a plywood top, held together with zip ties, tension straps and bungee cords, stated Lohmar in a press release. The hotline caller explained that the child was often in the cage when not with a government-funded respite care provider.
Victoria and Terry Smith were not at home at the time police responded, March 15. The 6-year-old and five siblings were left with an older relative who was recovering from a stroke and indicated to the police that it was difficult for her to care for the children. Lohmar’s release further stated that conditions in other areas of the home were found to be “unsanitary and cluttered. Door knobs to the children’s rooms were installed backwards so that they could be locked from the outside. The caged child’s siblings, ranging from 11 months to 8 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 of the cage.”
Law enforcement and Children’s Division unsuccessfully tried to contact Terry and Victoria Smith for three hours while at the scene.
Lohmar’s release further states, “As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Terry and Victoria Smith are accusations and they are legally presumed innocent until found guilty upon their plea or trial.”