Hocking County, OH – A three-year-old child was found locked in a cage and at two-year-old was discovered carrying a methamphetamine pipe after police executed a search warrant at a home in connection with a sexual assault investigation on Sunday.
The children’s parents, 25-year-old Megan Smith and 38-year-old Franklin “TJ” Varney, fled the residence prior to officers’ arrival and remained on the run late Sunday night, the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) said in a press release.
The children’s horrific living conditions were discovered after HCSO detectives and the Logan-Hocking Special Response Team responded to the family’s home on Bear Run Road to execute a search warrant in connection with a sexual assault investigation.
Varney and Smith had already fled the house “due to their involvement with the sexual assault investigation,” according to the sheriff’s office.
“When law enforcement personnel entered the residence, which was in deplorable condition, they located a three-year-old child locked inside a cage, which was secured with zipties,” the HCSO said. “The cage that the infant was in was filled with bugs, soiled bedding, and a cup full of spoiled milk.”
NEW Photos. Hocking County Sheriff shows us “cage” 3 yo toddler was zip-tied into. Another 1 yo baby found with meth pipe in her hand. Deputies had search warrant and arrest warrant for the Bear Run address. Parents escaped and grandma is in custody. Children are in foster care. pic.twitter.com/mGpWpKKh5j
— Lu Ann Stoia (@stoiawsyx6) September 19, 2022
Investigators said they also located a two-year-old child “walking around the residence holding a methamphetamine pipe.”
The children’s grandmother, 61-year-old Ella Webb, had full custody of them at the time.
The children were both taken into emergency custody with the help of South Central Ohio Job and Family Services and have been placed in foster care, the HCSO said.
Webb was arrested on a third-degree felony endangering children charge and pleaded not guilty on Monday, WBNS reported.
Her bond was set at $200,000.
The court has issued arrest warrants against Smith and Varney for third-degree endangering children, according to the HCSO.
Those warrants are extraditable nationwide.
“I very, very strongly encourage Mr. Varney and Ms. Smith to immediately surrender themselves to law enforcement,” HCSO Chief Deputy Caleb Mortiz said in the press release. “If they choose to run from their responsibilities, as they did tonight, the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office will tirelessly leverage every local, State, and Federal resource available to bring these two to justice.”