University of Florida scientists Dustin Huff and Yurui Xie arrested for locking kids in cages

A couple have been arrested after police discovered their two young children aged six and two had allegedly been locked inside cages.

US scientists, Dustin Huff, 35, and Yurui Xie, 31, who work at the University of Florida, were arrested on Friday after their son told his teacher that he feared going home as he did not want to be “locked in the cage”.

This disturbing claim prompted them to alert the Department of Families and Children, which saw investigators show up at the couple’s door to examine the home.

During this search, police were shocked to discover a makeshift wooden cage with bolts on the outside inside the six-year-old’s bedroom, according to the Gainesville Police Department.

Authorities said the older child claimed he was kept in the cage throughout the night until 7am when it was “time for school”. It was also claimed that he was made to wear nappies during the night.

According to reports, his mother allegedly put him inside the cage after school before leaving the house, and was kept inside the cage until his father got home.

The couple’s two-year-old was also allegedly put inside a cage in their wardrobe, where police found a toddler’s cot that had been turned upside down.

Neither child would be able to safely escape from the enclosure and injury or death could have occurred to either child if they had they tried to escape, according to the arrest affidavit.

“I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble. I just didn’t want to be in the cage,” the child told authorities.

Sergeant John Pandak from the Gainesville Police Department told FOX 35 Orlando the harrowing details of the case

“I’m not used to walking in and seeing a cage where children are kept at night and of course when home alone,” Sgt Pandak said.

“It was shocking. You get emotional obviously but you have to keep it in check, but having kids makes it a little more personal.

Both parents are each facing three felony child abuse charges, including aggravated child abuse and child neglect without causing great bodily harm.

They are each held on bond of USD$600,000.

The University of Florida told News 6 that Huff and Xie were placed on administrative leave following their arrests.

The mother was hired full time as a university employee in June of 2019, while the father was promoted to full time two years before that, in December of 2017.

Both held various roles as temporary workers and/or grad assistants before being hired full time, the spokesperson shared.

Xie graduated with a master’s of science in horticulture sciences Summer 2016 and Huff graduated with a bachelor of science from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences in Spring 2015, according to UF commencement booklets.

The children are reportedly safe and staying with vetted family members.

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