Domestic Violence Call Leads Officers To “Absolutely Disgusting Child Abuse Case”

Children found locked in dog cage, living
in deplorable conditions, Wise County
deputies say

RHOME, TX  –  A father and mother of four children are facing charges after deputies discovered a horrific scene of child abuse and neglect at a home Tuesday morning.

.jpg photo of mother of children found to be abused and neglected.
Paige Isabow Harkings, 24

According to Wise County deputies, they received a call at about 7:20 a.m. on a report of domestic violence at a house off County Road 4930 near Newark, about 30 miles north of Fort Worth.

Andrew Fabila and Paige Harkings face four charges of child endangerment, authorities said.

.jpg photo of father of one of the children found to be abused and neglected.
Andrew Joseph Fabila, 24

When deputies arrived at the home, they found cuts to the Fabila’s face and heard children inside a barn, according to Sheriff Lane Akin, with the Wise County Sheriff’s Department.

Four children were found inside the barn:  a 4-year-old girl and three boys, ages 5, 3 and 1, Akin said.

The oldest two children were locked in a dog kennel measuring about 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet, he said.  The other two were found mostly unclothed on the floor of the barn, covered in urine and feces, Akin said.

Akin said it was the worst child-abuse case he’d seen during his 44 years in law enforcement.

“I’ve not worked one where children are locked inside a dog kennel, and I find that absolutely disgusting,” he said.

Inside the barn, the space was “crudely fashioned” into rooms to create some sort of living quarters, Akin said.

“There was plenty of food inside the barn, but the refrigerator and the cabinets had been locked so the kids could not get in to get food,” the sheriff said.

The children were hungry and thirsty when deputies found them, so authorities gave them food and water before they were taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.  Akin said he saw no obvious injuries to the children before they were hospitalized.

The children were released from the hospital Tuesday evening and will be placed in foster care, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said.

Deputies noticed feces scattered throughout the house.

Fabila was sent to the hospital with cuts.  Harkins also faces a family violence charge.

The couple had been staying with the paternal grandparents’ house.  Texas Child Protective Services confirmed that they had previous contact with the family, but would not elaborate.

Multiple agencies are investigating.