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‘Just horrendous:’ Children found locked in dog kennel

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, February 16, 2019
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Surveying the Crime Scene

SURVEYING THE CRIME SCENE – Officers with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety collect evidence at the home where four kids – including two found locked in a dog kennel – were removed and placed in foster care Tuesday. Their parents were charged with four counts of child neglect. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Four children discovered living in what Sheriff Lane Akin described as “horrendous” conditions Tuesday near Newark were doing well in foster care later in the week.

It’s a far cry from what officers saw when they entered the metal shop in the 100 block of County Road 4930 not far from Seven Hills Elementary School Tuesday morning.

Paige Isabow Harkings

An arrest affidavit in the case provides details of what a Wise County Sheriff’s deputy and Texas Department of Public Safety trooper found inside.

“One child was wrapped up in a blanket, lying on a heating pad which was on top of a plastic wrapping over a mattress. Two children were locked in a canine kennel and were covered in their own feces. The fourth child was lying in a Pack-N-Play bed wrapped up in multiple blankets. There was a floor space heater directly next to the canine kennel where the two children covered in their own feces were lying,” the affidavit states.

The shop had electricity but no running water or toilet facilities. The affidavit states the children were using a non-connected toilet with trash bags around the toilet bowl to urinate and defecate.

Andrew Jospeh Fabila

The two older children, ages 5 and 4, were the two found locked in the kennel that Akin described as appropriate for a medium or large-sized dog. The two younger children, ages 3 and 1, were in diapers that appeared not to have been changed “in a lengthy amount of time,” the affidavit states.

Akin described the inside as “cluttered with trash and human waste.”

“It was just horrendous. It’s not the way children should be living,” he said.

Food was located in the building, but both the refrigerator and the cabinets were locked so the children could not access the food.

All four appeared to be malnourished, the sheriff said, but he did not immediately notice any apparent bruising.

“A deputy and a trooper gave them food and water. They were famished,” he said.

Wise County EMS responded to the scene to check on the children, who were later transported to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. Child Protective Services is also involved in the case.

“The children were placed in foster care Tuesday evening and are doing well,” said Marissa Gonzales, a spokesperson with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

LOCATION OF THE CHILDREN – This map shows the approximate location of the home where four children were removed after their parents were arrested for neglect Tuesday. Messenger graphic by Todd A. Griffith

Both parents – Paige Isabow Harkings and Andrew Jospeh Fabila, both 24 – each face four counts of criminal negligence of a child. Bond has been set at $15,000 for each count – for a total of $60,000 – for those charges on both parents. Harkings has also been charged with aggravated assault causes serious bodily injury due to a family violence incident involving Fabila that left him with multiple cuts on his face. An additional $15,000 bond has been set for that charge. Both remained in the Wise County Jail Friday.

Harkings is the biological mother of all four children, and Fabila is the biological father of one child, Akin said.

The two had been living in Wise County for about four weeks, and officers had not responded to the Newark location previously. Akin said CPS had been involved in previous cases with the children when they were living in the Metroplex before moving to Wise County.

The sheriff’s office received a call from Fabila at 7:20 a.m. Tuesday about a possible physical disturbance at the location, according to call sheet records. Fabila told dispatchers he had consumed five beers and she had three, the call sheet states. A woman could be heard yelling in the background about a broken window.

The affidavit states that a deputy arrived at the location and found Fabila and Harkings outside smoking, and both attempted to go back inside before the officer told them both to stop.

Fabila had multiple cuts to his face, which may have been caused by the shattered glass from the window, Akin said.

The two were separated and questioned individually, and Fabila was asked if there were any children in the home. He told the officer his four children were inside.

When the officers conducted a warrant check on the two, they discovered a CPS child safety check alert on their identification returns. That led to the welfare check on the children.

Harkings was arrested at the scene for aggravated assault causes serious bodily injury for the family violence offense. Fabila was taken to Wise Health System in Decatur for his injuries. Both were booked into the Wise County Jail on the child neglect charges Tuesday afternoon and had bond set on Wednesday.

A court hearing will be held later this month to determine what happens next with the children.

“Typically this first hearing is where we discuss with the judge the next steps for the children, their progress and any relatives who might be a placement for them in the future,” Gonzales said.

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