A Fayette County mother has been arrested after allowing her boyfriend back in the home where he allegedly locked her five children in a bedroom for 24 hours at a time.
Deputies had arrested 28-year old Joshua Steinbronn last Friday after they found the children – ranging in age from 3 to 9 – crying and begging for help inside a locked bedroom of the Westgate home Steinbronn shares with his girlfriend and the mother’s children, 29-year old Jonya Smith. The children told deputies that Steinbronn locked them in the room without food or a bathroom on several occasions, sometimes for longer than 24 hours. One girl reported that she injured her leg while trying to escape. A judge ordered him to have no contact with the children after he left jail Saturday on a unsecured bond.
The Sheriff’s Office says Steinbronn returned this week to the home. They say he hid in a crawl space at the home when social workers and deputies came to check on the children in recent days. But after investigators discovered the hiding spot, deputies arrested Steinbronn and Smith on Wednesday. Two other roommates were arrested on drug paraphernalia charges.
The Iowa Department of Human Services has now removed the children from the home after previously allowing them to stay with Smith under its monitoring. DHS has refused to explain how it’s handled the case, noting child abuse investigations are confidential. (Photos courtesy of Fayette County Sheriff’s Office)