Warning: some of the details included in this story are disturbing.
A Fort Worth, Texas couple were arrested Tuesday after police responded to a domestic disturbance call.
But what investigators found inside their home was truly alarming: four malnourished and mistreated children, including two police say were locked in a dog crate.
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin described finding three boys and a girl aged from 1 to 5 years old, all stashed in a barn converted into a living space. The older children, 4 and 5, were the ones locked inside the dog kennel.
Police say all four children were hungry, thirsty, and covered in feces, but were immediately treated by emergency medical services.
While there was a refrigerator kept in the barn, Wise County Chief Deputy Craig Johnson told NBC News that it was locked, and "filthy" inside.
"When you find them in the state they were found today, covered in fecal material, no food readily available to them, didn't appear to have been cared for, it's unacceptable," he said. "It's bad."
Neighbor chokes up after finding out Wise County deputies reportedly found 4 children living in filthy shed across street:— Maria Guerrero (@Maria_NBC5) February 12, 2019
2 found locked in dog kennel, 2 malnourished/covered in feces. Kids being evaluated at hospital, says CPS. Parents arrested.
Amber Jester, the couple’s neighbor, said she didn't even know there were children on their property.
"You'd think that being right across the street we would know something," she said.
"You'd like to say you would do something. But you don't know. I guess you never know what people are doing inside of their homes."
Police identified Paige Harkings is the biological mother of all four children, while her boyfriend Andrew Fabila is only the biological father of one. Harkings and Fabila were both arrested for endangering a child and aggravated assault.
The couple appeared to have been in a fight before police arrived, which prompted the domestic disturbance call.
While the couple awaited their first court appearance Wednesday, their children were evaluated at a hospital in Fort Worth and taken into custody by Child Protective Services.
It revealed just how dire this case was when Johnson told NBC 5 it was "at the top of the list of worst cases, as far as children."