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HOCKING COUNTY, Ohio – Update Sept. 19 7:20 p.m. EDT:

Deputies said in an updated news release that two people who were on the run after their children were found in deplorable conditions in Ohio have been arrested.

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The Hocking County Sheriff’s Office said that Franklin “TJ” Varney and Megan Smith were arrested after deputies chased them through the woods near their home. The pair had been wanted after deputies serving a search warrant at their home Sunday found their children living in horrifying conditions.

Original Story:

The Hocking County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that detectives who entered the home found a 3-year-old inside a cage that had been locked using zip ties. Detectives said the cage was filled with bugs, soiled bedding and a cup of spoiled milk. A 2-year-old was also found inside the home, walking around “holding a methamphetamine pipe.”

Investigators said in the news release that the children’s parents, Franklin “TJ” Varney and Megan Smith, ran from the house “due to their involvement with the sexual assault investigation.” Officers arrested Ella Webb, the children’s grandmother, who had legal custody.

Ella Webb

Webb was charged with endangering children.

“I very, very strongly encourage Mr. Varney and Ms. Smith to immediately surrender themselves to law enforcement,” Hocking County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Caleb J. Moritz said in a statement. “If they chose to run from their responsibilities, as they did tonight, the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office will tirelessly leverage every local, state, and federal resource available to bring these two to justice.”


Deputies are looking for Franklin "TJ" Varney and Megan Smith, who are charged with endangering children.

The children were placed into emergency foster care, deputies told WBNS.

Varney, Smith and Webb are all charged with endangering children.