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‘Cages’ or cribs? DA drops child endangerment case against California couple

A Northern California district attorney has dropped child endangerment charges against a Modoc County couple initially accused of keeping twin boys in cage-like cribs secured to a wall.
A Northern California district attorney has dropped child endangerment charges against a Modoc County couple initially accused of keeping twin boys in cage-like cribs secured to a wall. Modoc County Sheriff's Department

A Northern California couple will not face child endangerment charges after deputies initially reported finding twin boys in cage-like cribs bolted to a wall, KRCR reported.

“There’s no kids in cages and it’s not a child endangerment case,” said Sam Kyllo, the Modoc County district attorney, according to the station. “They’re cribs. You can buy them on Amazon.”

Modoc County sheriff’s deputies arrested Ramon Alberto Zendejas, 25, and Mercadies Irene Williams, also 25, on Friday following a search of their Tulelake home, a sheriff’s statement posted to Facebook says.

The search turned up three firearms, ammunition, evidence of a butane honey oil lab and methamphetamine, the statement says.

Deputies also found two children confined in “modified cribs that were stacked on top of on another and secured to a wall like dog crates,” the sheriff’s statement, titled “2 children found secured in cages,” says.

“I suspect it was a way to keep them away from the other items that were located within the residence,” said Sheriff Tex Dowdy, referring to the 22-month-old twin boys, KRCR reported.

Deputies arrested Zendejas and Williams on suspicion of child endangerment, possession of a controlled substance, manufacturing a controlled substance, possessing drug paraphernalia and weapons charges, the sheriff’s statement says.

Dowdy said deputies obtained a search warrant for the home after an officer earlier found bullet casings on the property, KOBI reported. Zendejas, a felon, is prohibited from owning firearms, Dowdy said.

The child endangerment charges against Zendejas and Williams were dropped at a Tuesday court hearing, according to the station. Officials did not disclose the status of the two children, who had been taken in by Modoc County Child Protective Services.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.

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