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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 August, 2003, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
US couple held over caged boys
Makeshift cages made of cots and plastic crates that Phoenix police say were used to lock-up the 5-year-old twin boys
The boys' mother said they were kept in cages for their own protection
Police in the United States have arrested a couple who allegedly kept their twin five-year-old sons in cockroach-infested cages for 20 hours a day.

The children from Phoenix, Arizona were only allowed out when their mother Estelvina Rodriguez, 42, got home from work, police believe.

Officers discovered the twins on Saturday after their 20-year-old brother told an off-duty police officer at a local shop about their squalid living conditions.

They arrested the boys parents on suspicion of child abuse and kidnapping - the pair are being held on $243,000 bonds.

Mrs Rodriguez told police her husband Louis, 69, was in poor health and was unable to look after the boys.

They can't talk. When they tried, just noises would come out
Edna White, neighbour
Edna White, who has lived next door to the family for 27 years, said the boys were not toilet trained and could not walk.

"They can't talk. When they tried, just noises would come out," she said.


Police found the boys in two cages made of plastic crates, railings and fridge shelves, wired together.

Cockroaches filled the cages which contained a blanket and small mattress smeared with faeces and urine.

The boys, who appeared healthy and well-fed were put in care along with their eight-year-old brother, who freely roamed the house.

"They were happy to see us and opened their arms wide, reaching out to be held and picked up," Sergeant Jacqui MacConnell said.

Social workers had visited the house twice - two years ago - to investigate a complaint of neglect, but found the boys in good health playing outside.

"The mum reported the kids once got outside and were bitten by a dog. She said they kept them caged for their own protection," Sergeant Randy Force said.

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