Kids found in shed behind Texas daycare center

/ Source: The Associated Press

A couple was arrested after a state inspector found several children locked in a tool shed behind an unlicensed daycare center.

State officials said the children were surrounded by lawn equipment, gasoline and insecticide when they were found Wednesday morning. The children were not injured.

A child welfare inspector had gone there in response to a complaint that an illegal daycare center was being operated at the home.

In all, 14 children, ranging in age from 3 months to 5 years, were being cared for by the couple, Child Protective Services spokeswoman Gwen Carter said Thursday. Several were in the shed and others were hidden in the house and at a home next door.

Austin County District Attorney Travis Koehn said Marietta Patek, 55, was charged with six counts of child endangerment. Her husband, Freddie Patek, 47, faced an evidence tampering charge.

They were supposed to be caring for no more than three children, Carter said.

Bond was set at $10,000 for each. They have no attorney of record to comment on their behalf, jail officials said Thursday.

Paramedics examined all the children and found they were unharmed. Parents were summoned to pick them up from the home in Sealy, about 45 miles west of Houston.

The case remains under investigation by police and child welfare authorities.