Alayna Higdon & John Eckhart Kept Autistic Kids Locked in Caged Room
|John Eckhart: "What am I supposed to do, let them run around the house and get into everything? What kind of [expletive] parenting is that?"|
Last week, police arrived at their apartment to conduct a welfare check. That's when they discovered the couple's adventurous notion of penitentiary-style parenting.
Though two kids ages 9 and 11 months were treated normally, two autistic kids -- ages 5 and 7 -- were kept in a homemade cage. A bedroom door had been removed, replaced by a caged door that kept the kids from going anywhere else in the apartment. The only furniture within the room was a dirty mattress. The kids had no blankets to sleep under, and no toys to play with throughout the day.
The kids were also still in diapers, and cops said the room held the overwhelming smell of pee.
The rest of the apartment was a mess, as you can expect. There was garbage piled up and all that was in the fridge was pop and pizza, which is said to be highly nutritious if you're a scientist employed by Dominos.
When asked by cops why she treated the kids like 1950s zoo animals, Alayna Higdon said that "because they are autistic, it's the only way to contain them," according to Fox Oregon. Weirdly enough, she's a former student in elementary education at Clark College and served as a volunteer at Harney Elementary School.
The alleged man of the house, John Eckhart, tried to couch his actions in some perverse form of nobility. "What am I supposed to do, let them run around the house and get into everything? What kind of [expletive] parenting is that?"
The four kids have all been placed in foster care for the time being. Meanwhile, mom and dad have been charged with criminal mistreatment. (Special thanks to Pennsylvania Bureau Chief Captain America for the tip.)
|Not only did she keep her autistic stepsons in a cage, but Alayna Higdon didn't even enroll them in school|
That's what he told KATU-TV. He says the boys were kept in a dark room with nothing to play with and only a small, single bed for them to sleep on -- with no blankets or pillows.
"The paint throughout the room had been picked off," Allias says. "They had slowly, methodically picked away at the drywall and paint. There appeared to be food splattered on the walls. In fact, there were little handprints of food or feces that were in the drywall and along the window sill."
The couple had used a baby gate to essentially bar the windows. They'd also used metal shelving to build a homemade cell door to the room, which couldn't be opened from the inside. Neither kid was enrolled in school.
As it turns out, the conditions were discovered by apartment workers doing a routine maintenance inspection. They told the cops the place was a dump, almost in hoarder conditions, and that the boys could be heard whining and crying from inside their cell.