3 people in custody after children found in 'deplorable' conditions at Ohio home

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Posted at 9:51 PM, Sep 19, 2022

HOCKING COUNTY, Ohio — Three people are in custody after law enforcement officials found one child locked inside a bug-ridden cage and another child holding a methamphetamine pipe inside a Hocking County home.

Detectives with the Hocking County Sheriff's Office and members of the Logan-Hocking Special Response Team executed a search warrant at a home Sept. 18 in connection to a sexual assault investigation. When they arrived, officials found a 3-year-old locked inside a cage secured with zip-ties. The sheriff's office said the cage was filled with "bugs, soiled bedding and a cup full of spoiled milk."

Officials also found a 1-year-old who was holding a methamphetamine pipe. The sheriff's office said the residence was "in deplorable condition."

The children's parents, 38-year-old Franklin "TJ" Varney and 25-year-old Megan Smith, had fled the scene due to their involvement in the investigation. On Monday, the two were taken into custody after being chased by law enforcement on foot in the woods near their home. They face endangering children charges.

Officials charged Ella Webb, the children's grandmother, with endangering children. She has full custody of both kids. According to affiliate WBNS in Columbus, Webb pleaded not guilty in Hocking County Municipal Court. She is being held on a $200,000 bond.

The sheriff's office said the two children were taken into emergency custody with the help of Ohio Job and Family Services and placed in emergency foster care.

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