LARAMIE, Wyo. - A Wyoming man and woman face felony charges that they kept the woman's 7-year-old in an outdoor cage on and off for three weeks, forcing the child to sleep in the enclosure even during rainstorms.
Deputies who went to the rural property outside Laramie on a tip last month say they found a wooden and metal cage outside the home.
Court documents say the mother referred to it as a playpen and said the child was kept there because of misbehavior. The man told deputies he disliked the child but kept the child in the cage to ensure safety, according to an affidavit.
The man and woman, who lived inside, each face one count of child abuse and three counts of felonious restraint, the Laramie Boomerang reported.
Neither defense attorney was available for comment Tuesday.
A statement filed in court by investigators outlined one past report of child abuse and seven reports from welfare checks dating back to October 2013 received by the Albany County Sheriff's Office in reference to the child.
In the October 2013 report, a representative from the Wyoming Department of Family Services said the child reported having not eaten for a number of days and having to stay outside for several hours and take shelter in a vehicle to stay warm.
Albany County sheriff's deputies went to the property on Fox Creek Road after receiving a tip July 23 that the child was being kept in a cage outside a home there.
They discovered the cage was about 6 feet across, 5 feet tall, and constructed of cattle paneling and wooden snow fence.
Inside the cage, deputies discovered a cot, clothing, books, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a five-gallon bucket, according to court documents. A metal chain and "dog-leash-style latch" were allegedly used to keep the child locked in the enclosure.
Deputies said the child reported living in the cage on and off for three weeks, taking meals there and sleeping there overnight even when it rained.
The couple was arrested July 24.
At a circuit court hearing set for Thursday, a judge will determine whether the man should face charges in district court. The case against the mother already has advanced to district court.
The Associated Press is withholding the suspects' names to avoid identifying the child.