According to court documents the Department of Family Services removed four children from a home near Fifth Avenue West in Kalispell on March 21.
Officials allege Crystal Mears and Amy Newman locked up three of the four children, ages 9, 11 and 12, in the basement for extended periods of time without lights and food, and just a bucket for a toilet.
Detective Karen Webster, of the Kalispell Police Department, investigated and found locks on the doors to the basement, including padlocks and zip-ties.
According to an affidavit, the door leading out of the basement was locked. The basement windows were boarded up and not egressed. There was no furniture except for one small mattress for each child. There was no light except through a crack in a window. No smoke alarms were present.
Mears and Newman were interviewed, and each reportedly admitted to locking the children in the basement every night. Court documents state Newman said she and Mears kept keys to the locks.
Mears and Newman face three felony charges of criminal endangerment, which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $50,000 for each charge.