A 9-year-old Wisconsin girl was locked in a dog cage by her grandmother and the woman’s boyfriend, authorities said.
Gail Lalonde, 46, and Dale Deavers, 48, were arrested and charged with false imprisonment and causing mental harm to a child, according to the Racine County Sheriff’s Office.
The couple was also charged with running a drug trafficking operation from their home after investigators discovered 23 marijuana plants, grow lights and four ounces of dried pot, according to authorities.
"I have not seen anything like this in my 23 years of law enforcement experience," said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling. "I've seen people do horrific things to other human beings, but I've never seen anyone treat a child like an animal.
“I was sickened at what I witnessed last night... It doesn’t get much worse than this."
Lalonde and Deavers acknowledged keeping the girl in the cage, but said they did so to keep her safe, investigators said.
The grandmother claimed the child “threatens to kill us” and eats cleaning solutions, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday by prosecutors.
After the girl showed up to school with very short hair, a teacher asked what happened. The child said her grandmother had chopped it off as punishment after she tried to cut her own hair, the complaint read.
Racine County Human Services workers removed the child and a 10-year-old sibling from the home and placed them in protective custody, Schmaling said.
Lalonde and Deavers are being held in lieu of $55,000 bail each, authorities said. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, according to online records.