msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 4/13/2011 5:43:06 PM ET 2011-04-13T21:43:06

Two parents have been charged with criminal mistreatment and unlawful imprisonment after police found two autistic boys locked in a bedroom with a "cage-like" door, officials said Wednesday.

John Eckhart, 30, and Alayna Higdon, 26, were arrested Tuesday at their apartment in Vancouver, Wash.

Police say Higdon is the mother of the two children, ages 5 and 7, and that Eckhart is her boyfriend.

Officers saw the arm of a child coming out of a modified cage where a door to a room should be, according to the police report.

The Vancouver Columbian reported that officers stated in their report that the boys did not speak, were wearing diapers and not attending school.

Asked why they were caged, Higdon said it was because she was not able to control them, according to the report.

Two other children, ages 9 and 11 months, were not confined to the caged bedroom, according to police.

Bail was set at $25,000 each. The couple is set for arraignment April 27 in Clark County Superior Court.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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