Andrew Fabila and Paige Harkings are a Texas couple accused of keeping some of their children locked up in a dog crate.
When officers arrived at the scene, they found two of the children inside one crate, according to authorities. The horrific scene unfolded in rural Wise County, Texas on February 12, 2019.
“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,” said Craig Johnson, chief deputy for the Wise County Sheriff’s Department.
On Faebook, Harkings (who went by the same Isabow Harkins) posted numerous photos of the children and Fabila. “I love my family,” said a filter on one Facebook picture she posted. A collage on Paige’s Facebook page showed multiple children and a dog.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Authorities Went to the Home After a Domestic Disturbance
About 7:20 a.m. on February 12, deputies received a call “in reference to a domestic disturbance.”
A male and female were involved in some kind of physical altercation or argument. Upon arriving, deputies found the male suspect (later identified as Fabila) with some injuries to his face, said Johnson. Indeed, a mugshot of Fabila shows his face covered with wounds.
Authorities then found four children inside the residence “two of which were locked in a dog crate.” According to Johnson, the children are ages 5, 4, 3 and 1. “Locking a child at any time in a dog crate is unacceptable. When you find them in the state they were found today, covered in fecal material, no food readily available to them, didn’t appear to be cared for, it’s just completely unacceptable,” said Johnson.
The children in the crate were the older two kids, and Johnson described it as a wire kennel.
2. The Children Were in a ‘State of Neglect’ & Covered With Fecal Material, Authorities Say
Johnson continued to describe the horrific scene inside the home.
“One (child) was laying on a blanket, and one was laying on a little toddler bed. All of them were filthy, covered in fecal material and appeared to be in a state of neglect,” he said, adding that all four children belong to Harkings, and one also belongs to Fabila, whose full name is Andrew Joseph Fabila.
Both Harkings and Fabila are 24-years-old. Harkings was also accused of assault, online jail records show.
“They were taken into custody and transported to the Wise County Jail on four counts of child endangerment,” said Johnson of the pair. “Child protective services responded and took custody of the children. Due to the state of the children and due to the state of their appearance,” they were taken to a hospital in Fort Worth.
3. The Cluttered Living Quarters Were Inside a Metal Shop Building
Johnson gave a brief description of the home, if it could be called that.
“It’s filthy inside the residence,” he said. “It’s pretty well cluttered. It’s unkempt. A lot of stuff in there. It’s a metal shop type building with some living quarters fashioned at one end of it.”
News 5 described it as an “outbuilding” and said the family hadn’t lived there long. The neighbors indicated they didn’t know children were living on the property.
4. The Refrigerator Was Locked With Straps, Police Say
According to Johnson, there was evidence that food was kept out of the reach of the children, who were described as wanting food and being thirsty.
Johnson said there was a refrigerator in the residence but it had three straps on it that served as locking devices to keep people out.
“They were positioned in a manner where those small children would not have access,” he said. “That is troubling absolutely.” He added, “The adults will be booked into the Wise County Jail, and the children will be evaluated, and CPS will make a determination on the custody and placement of the children.
5. Authorities Say the Children Looked Small & Authorities Hadn’t Been to the Residence Before
Johnson said that Wise County hasn’t had any other dealings with Fabila and hasn’t been to the address before. However, NBC 5 reported that Child Protective Services did have previous contact with the parents, but not at that address. The details were not yet available.
“They looked pretty well unkempt. Some of them looked small for what we believe to be their ages. But they will be evaluated, and their condition will be figured out for certain,” he said of the kids.
They had fecal material over a good part of their body, he added. “The first officers on the scene described them as being covered in fecal material… that’s not typically what we see.”
He said it’s “not always an easy thing to see but that’s part of the job.”