The mother of two special-needs children who had been living in makeshift cages in a northwest Georgia home has been charged along with another woman with cruelty to children, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Friday.
The mother, Stephanie Elizabeth Stone, 34, of Chatsworth was also charged with false imprisonment and possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine. She was being held in the Murray County jail.
A Murray County sheriff’s deputy found Stone’s 11-year-old boy in a cage fashioned out of bed frame parts on Thursday after two 911 calls from the same caller asked authorities to investigate the home. A second cage also was found at the home, about 90 miles northwest of Atlanta.
The boy and an 8-year-old sister appeared to be uninjured but were undergoing further examination, according to the GBI. The Department of Family Children Services has taken custody of the children, a GBI agent said.
This is one of the latest incidents in the state involving the confinement of children by parents or guardians.
In February, a Douglas County woman, Sarah Elizabeth McClain, was sentenced to prison for locking a 6-year-old boy with mental health issues in a dog cage as punishment. In June 2014, a former Georgia Tech football star and his wife, Recardo and Therian Wimbush, were arrested on charges of punishing their oldest child by locking him in a basement for months.
In addition to Stone, another woman, Wanda Sue Redfern, 49, also charged with cruelty to children and false imprisonment in the Murray County case, according to the GBI. An additional arrest was expected, but authorities would not provide details.
Redfern’s relationship to Stone was not immediately confirmed, and it was not known whether Redfern also resided at the Chatsworth home. The Chattanooga Times Free Press identified Redfern as someone who was about to marry into Stone’s family.
Bonds for Stone and Redfern was set at $25,000.
A Murray County sheriff’s deputy first went to the house Thursday morning after a 911 caller reported a child had been left alone at the home, according to Greg Ramey, GBI special agent in charge. The sheriff’s department cleared the call, however, after finding Redfern with the 8-year-old girl, authorities said.
The same 911 caller called again Thursday afternoon, asking that the house be further investigated. When the deputy returned he entered the house and found the cages, with the 11-year-old inside of one of them, Ramey said.
It’s unclear how long the children had been in the cages, but Ramey said it’s “not just recently. It looks like there’s history.”
DFCS had previously provided services to the family, but Ramey he was not sure about the extent of the services. The family’s case was closed in June. Both children were enrolled in school, Ramey said.
A spokeswoman for DFCS said the agency would not provide specific information regarding the case. Ramey said the agency is cooperating in the investigation,
The children’s father, who does not live at the house, has been made aware of the situation, Ramey said.