Image: Ricardo Gonzalez
AP
Ricardo Gonzalez, 35, of Midlothian, Ill., was arrested after a woman said she saw him push a child's hands back into a cage at a gas station on Monday.
updated 7/3/2008 8:40:45 PM ET 2008-07-04T00:40:45

A suburban Chicago man locked his two young daughters in a wire cage hidden in the back of his pickup truck because he didn't have a baby sitter, officials said Thursday.

Ricardo Gonzalez, 35, of Midlothian, was arrested Monday after a woman at a gas station in Posen heard a crying child and spotted him pushing small hands back into a cage, police said.

He had a wire cage behind the front seats of his truck, police said. Black-tinted windows and a large plywood board in the back window concealed it.

Gonzalez told police he used the cage because he didn't have a baby sitter. He also said he wanted to control the girls, ages 2 and 5, so they wouldn't run away. Police said the girls did not live in the cage.

Gonzalez will appear in court July 31 on charges of misdemeanor child endangerment. Cook County prosecutors were exploring Thursday whether the charge could be upgraded to a felony.

A telephone listing for Gonzalez could not be found, and it was not clear whether he had an attorney.

The children were turned over to the state child welfare agency and placed in foster care Monday.

Agency spokesman Kendall Marlowe said the department was investigating abuse allegations against the father. It had previously found the mother neglectful and provided unspecified "supportive services" to the family.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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