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Dad leaves 1-day-old baby home alone with toddler locked in 'homemade' cage, police say

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State Police say that a 22-month-old boy was found "locked inside a homemade cage that was constructed from plywood and lattice [with] a door on it which was locked from the outside" inside a Pottsville home.

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On Wednesday Police and a member of Schuylkill County Children and Youth Services went to the home on Chestnut Street for a welfare check. Officers knocked on the door and there was no response, the CYS representative then called the children's father Cecil Eugene Kutz and police were able to "ascertain that he was not at home," according to the affidavit.

Police then forced entry into the home and discovered three children just inside the front door.

Police found the 22-month-old child along with a one-year-old boy in a playpen and a 1-day-old girl in a baby seat.

No baby formula was found in the home and there was no "evidence that the baby was fed at all," according to the affidavit.

The girl was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation. All three children were then taken into custody by Schuylkill County CYS.

According to the affidavit the children's mother was taken to a local hospital around 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday for complications from childbirth. Police say that she had given birth to the girl on Tuesday around 9 p.m. and was "experiencing extreme bleeding." Trooper Thomas Robin said medical staff asked her, "'Where's the baby?' She said, 'The baby's at home.' That put up a red flag."

Police say that when Kutz, 38, returned home he was taken into custody. According to the affidavit, the children were home alone for a minimum of 40 minutes.

"From the time we arrived to the residence to the time the father returned, it was 40 minutes. God knows how long they were alone before that. He was nowhere to be found," state police Trooper Thomas Robin said Thursday.

Kutz refused to tell police how long he'd left the children or where he went on Wednesday, Robin said.

The father said he used the cage as a makeshift crib to keep the toddler safe at night, the trooper said. There was a foam mattress and toys inside the cage.

"He says he would keep him there at night because he claimed he was crawling all over the place. He told me he's done it in the past, that it's not the first time he put him in that contraption," Robin said.

Kutz "really didn't seem very concerned" about leaving his children home alone, but the mother expressed alarm and "said this was never done on her watch," the trooper said.

Kutz has been charged with endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment. He was arraigned and taken to Schuylkill County Prison in lieu of $250,000 bail.

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