MONROE COUNTY, Wis. (WKBT) - A Monroe County couple accused of keeping their children in makeshift cages, will be in court Thursday at 1 p.m. for another hearing.
Amy Headrick, 39, and Travis Headrick, 47, are charged with multiple counts of child neglect and abuse.
News 8 has learned this is not the first time the couple has been investigated.
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, News 8 obtained records which show 20 reports of child abuse, child neglect and false imprisonment cases dating as far back as 2009.
Amy and Travis Headrick were never charged in any of those cases.
"I've been in law enforcement for 35 years and I've never seen a case like this."
Monroe County Sheriff Scott Perkins says he's seen a lot in his line of work but this case in particular, tops anything else.
According to the criminal complaint, Amy and Travis Headrick were arrested on August 24th for multiple counts of second degree recklessly endangering safety, neglecting a child and false imprisonment.
Four of the children in this case are adopted by the couple and one is their biological child.
The complaint describes the children being zip tied in horse troughs, held under water until they were almost unresponsive and beaten until they were bruised.
According to the requested records though, the Headricks were reported for similar cases between 2010 and 2015, during a time they were fostering children.
"We investigated all these complaints," Perkins said.
Sheriff Perkins says the department took each case seriously, but there was never probable cause for a search warrant.
"Every complaint was either not deemed unfounded or no truth to it."
He says they investigated each case by interviewing the children involved, many who were foster children at the time.
"These kids have been preached and trained how to answer questions," he said.
He says for years, the department did what it could, but without enough evidence for a search warrant, they simply had to follow the law.
"When the children are saying nothing is going on, and that's human services and the sheriff's office investigating it, we can't make up anything, we have to go with what we're being told."
But for the first time on August 24th, there was probable cause, picture evidence which News 8 has chosen to only show part of, due to its graphic nature.
Sheriff Perkins says that picture, along with other evidence, was enough to get a search warrant.
"And that's how we were able to get into the residence."
The children who the Headricks adopted were homeschooled.
According to the criminal complaint, the Headricks may have been fostering and adopting children, some with disabilities, to receive money.
They had built their new house in Melvina about a year ago.
News 8 will continue to follow up on this story.
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