A grandmother accused of putting her 9-year-old granddaughter in a cage told investigators she was “trying to keep her safe.”

Dale Deavers, 48, and Gail LaLonde, 46, were charged by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office with causing mental harm to a child, false imprisonment, manufacturing/delivering marijuana, and maintaining a drug trafficking place. If convicted of all charges, the couple each faces up to 28 years in prison and/or fines up to $55,000.

According to the criminal complaint, a nine-year-old girl told her teacher that she was “being locked in a cage at night.” The girl said she was put in the cage because she had been going into medicine cabinets and destroying things. The teacher noticed that the girl had her hair cut very short and that it was cut short because she was being punished by her grandmother for cutting her own hair.

The teacher told police that she had been helping LaLonde address the girl’s social and coping skills. Even though she wasn’t in any special needs classes, LaLonde told the teacher that the girl has mental health issues and eats inappropriate things that can make her sick. LaLonde is the girl’s guardian and lives with Deavers, who owns the home.

A social worker told police they knew the girl had medical, emotional and psychological problems and that she had suffered trauma during her early childhood. Suffering from “significant trauma,” the girl acts out when she is concerned for her personal safety.

The social worker told deputies that the girl had been placed under a kitchen table, restrained in a bathtub and suffered from other trauma within the home recently, including having her hair cut short by LaLonde. Locking the girl in a cage would “exasperate those feelings of insecurity and violations of personal safety,” the social worker told deputies.

When deputies interviewed, LaLonde admitted to locking the girl in the cage at night. The girl “hurts animals, threatens to kill us, eats Ridex and cleaner. I’m trying to keep her safe,” she said.

Whenever LaLonde put the girl to sleep, she would get out of bed and ingest “anything she can get her hands on.” She had been locking the girl in the cage for about two weeks, according to the criminal complaint.

While searching the home, investigators found an active marijuana growing operation in the basement behind a false wall not far from where the cage was located. They found 23 plants, 122 grams of dried marijuana and equipment.

The couple is expected to have their initial court appearance Friday afternoon.

 

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.