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Couple charged in abuse case

An area couple has been taken into custody and is facing felony charges after children were discovered in abusive conditions in Farmington.

Laura Cheatham, 38, and Daryl Head, 38, both of Farmington, are being charged with four class D felonies of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree and four class D felonies of kidnapping in the second degree.

According to a probable cause statement from the St. Francois County Prosecutors Office, on Tuesday a deputy with the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department was called to the 100 block of Meadowbrook Rd. to assist the Missouri Children’s Division.

According to the deputy, the children’s service worker told him there were allegations from a hotline call that there were children being confined in a room with plywood and screws. Homeowner and suspect, Head, walked from behind the home to meet with the deputy and the Children’s Division worker.

The deputy explained the allegations to Head and told that because of the demanding circumstances he would have to go inside the home. The deputy reported that after some hesitation Head opened the door.

When the deputy looked inside the home he saw Cheatham unscrewing plywood from small rooms and children coming out from behind the plywood. One of the Children’s Division workers recorded Cheatham on her phone unscrewing several screws in order to release a boy, who was approximately 6 years old.

The deputy reported that there were no windows or lights in the room and vent in the floor had the odor of urine. A press release stated investigators found that the children were being confined in an area on the main floor of the home wherein two bedrooms had been modified into four smaller rooms that were described as being, “smaller than a jail cell,” with no lighting, and no access to water or toilet facilities.

Three juvenile girls and one boy were placed in the Children’s Division custody while Head and Cheatham were placed under arrest.

According to the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department, the children were not biological children of the couple, but were adopted by Cheatham and her estranged husband at one point. The children appeared to be in relatively good health and it’s unclear how long the children were being held in the room.

This is a developing story and the Daily Journal will bring more details as they become available. Both Cheatham and Head are being held in the St. Francois County Jail on a $500,000 bond each.

Sheriff Dan Bullock, right, speaks to the media during a press conference Tuesday night. Standing beside him is Prosecuting Attorney Jerrod Mahurin. 

Sheriff Dan Bullock, right, speaks to the media during a press conference Tuesday night. Standing beside him is Prosecuting Attorney Jerrod Mahurin. 

Cheatham

Cheatham

Head

Head

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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