2 adults make court appearance; accused of keeping children in ' - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

2 adults make court appearance; accused of keeping children in 'special rooms'

Cheatham alledgedly told the offender in charge of the clothing division that the uniforms, “Were for her kids.” (Source: St. Francois Co. Sheriff's Office). Cheatham alledgedly told the offender in charge of the clothing division that the uniforms, “Were for her kids.” (Source: St. Francois Co. Sheriff's Office).
Daryl Justen Head, 38, and Laura Elizabeth Cheatham, 38, have each been charged (Source: St. Francois County Sheriff's Office) Daryl Justen Head, 38, and Laura Elizabeth Cheatham, 38, have each been charged (Source: St. Francois County Sheriff's Office)
According to the sheriff's office, the children were being held in "specially constructed" rooms with no windows or lighting. (Source: KFVS) According to the sheriff's office, the children were being held in "specially constructed" rooms with no windows or lighting. (Source: KFVS)
Daryl Head  (Source: St. Francois County Sheriff's Office) Daryl Head (Source: St. Francois County Sheriff's Office)
Elizabeth Cheatham (Source: St. Francois County Sheriff's Office) Elizabeth Cheatham (Source: St. Francois County Sheriff's Office)
FARMINGTON, MO (KFVS) -

A man and woman are in custody after the St. Francois County Sheriff's Office said a hotline report revealed four children being held in special rooms secured with plywood and screws.

Daryl Justen Head, 38, and Laura Elizabeth Cheatham, 38, were charged with four counts of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree and four counts of kidnapping in the second degree. Both are being held on $500,000 bond each.

Head and Cheatham were in court for an initial arraignment on August 14 at 8:30 a.m.

According to the circuit clerk's office, both waived their arraignment.

Cheatham will be back in court at 9 a.m. on Aug. 23 and Head will be back in court at 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 23.

On Tuesday, August 7, deputies along with investigators with the Missouri Children's Division arrived at a home on Meadowbrook Drive in Farmington, Missouri.

According to the hotline report, the children were being confined in rooms secured with plywood and screws.

The children are Cheatham's adopted kids from a previous marriage.

Investigators learned on Wednesday, August 8 that in January of 2018, Laura Cheatham, a recent former employee of the Missouri Department of Corrections, placed an order with Prison Industries Clothing Division for four kids size prison inmate uniforms.

Cheatham allegedly told the offender in charge of the clothing division that the uniforms, “Were for her kids.”

Investigators with this department took custody of the uniforms from officials at Farmington Correctional Center along with cardboard patterns that are marked "kids pants, kids shirt, and work order documentation".

Investigators with Farmington Correctional Center are assisting with interviews concerning the placement of the order and the uniforms’ manufacturing, as well as any other potential evidence. 

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.

"I've seen some pretty nasty things, but nothing this deplorable here in St. Francois County," said Sheriff Dan Bullock. "Myself and the prosecutor have talked about this. We've seen a lot of different things over the years. This is the kind of thing that happens somewhere else, and not here."  

Investigators and officers were initially denied entry into the home by Head, who they say is the homeowner.

Once inside, they say they found a 38-year-old woman, Cheatham, removing screws from the plywood that covered the entrance to small rooms.

A deputy called to the home said the Child Service's official recorded Cheatam removing the screws to release a boy who was about six-years-old. They said children ages five to 12 were coming out from behind the plywood. 

According to the sheriff's office, the children were being held in "specially constructed" rooms with no windows or lighting.

Neighbors say Daryl Head and Laura Cheatham moved in a few months ago, and have been doing what they thought were renovations inside. 

"All the outward signs were good, said Karen Thompson, a neighbor. "The children looked healthy. They were in just play clothes and I assure you that if any of us  knew anything like that, or even thought children were going to be corralled in boxes, we would have gotten together to do something an I'm very thankful for whoever did call that in."

The three girls and one boy were placed in the care of the Missouri Children's Division.

Copyright 2018 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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