CLEVELAND, Texas - A mother has confessed to forcing a 1-year-old girl to live in an animal cage, investigators said.
Liberty County sheriff's deputies were sent to the rural house in the 100 block of County Road 2802 Tuesday at 7 p.m. after receiving a report about animal cruelty. They said they found more than they expected.
"We located a 1-year-old child inside a poor-conditioned residence. That child has been checked by EMS and taken by Child Protective Services. The only adult here has been arrested," said Capt. Rex Evans with the Liberty County Sheriff's Office.
Evans said there were small roaches crawling around the baby. She was also covered in flea and tick bites, detectives said. She was drinking out of a dirty bottle, officials said.
"We have some indication that the child was being kept in some type of cage in the property," said Evans.
Sources close to the case said the baby's mother, Mabel Larsen, admitted she kept the child in the crate before she decided she wanted a lawyer.
Larsen was not supposed to be caring for a child. She and the baby's father, Aaron Parker, had five other children taken away from them in 2009. They then lost their parental rights to those children. They appealed the case, but lost in 2011. Both parents were also placed on probation after pleading guilty to injury to a child.
"We had no indication this woman was pregnant or that there was a child in this home," Children's Protective Services spokeswoman Gwen Carter said.
Officials with CPS said the case into the five children was closed in 2011, and that's when their contact with the couple ended.
"Once we close a case, the law doesn't allow us to drop in on people," Carter said. "There has to be a new case."
Larsen was arrested on Tuesday on an animal cruelty charge. One horse was found dead on the property.
"Deputies did arrive and found several emaciated horses, dogs, cats and even a deceased horse, and we are yet to determine how many other deceased animals are on the property. It does appear there are some," Evans said.
Larsen has not yet been charged with anything in connection with the child found in her home.
Detectives are still searching for Parker.
Child Protective Services will attend a hearing to determine if the baby should be placed with another relative.
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