WARRENSBURG, Missouri -- A mother and her boyfriend are accused of padlocking children inside their bedrooms. Neighbors who saw them motioning for help jumped into action.
Neighbors said their own young children first alerted them that something was wrong across the street.
"'Mom, they are really locked in there!'" Emily Whitehead said.
Whitehead said she went to investigate and saw a girl waving her arms from a second-story window. Whitehead tried to read her lips.
"I could tell she said, 'locked in my room,'" Whitehead said.
Whitehead and her husband called 911.
"A deputy showed up and he saw it with his own eyes, that they were in there by themselves," Brett Whitehead said.
According to court records, a 10-year-old girl came downstairs and let the officer in. She said she forced open a lock on her bedroom door, but couldn't get her eight-year-old sister out.
"Fire personnel had to remove the lock from the door in order to free the other juvenile child," Jo Leigh Fischer, Johnson County chief assistant prosecuting attorney said.
One of the children told the officer their mother, Brandi Edmiston, and her boyfriend, Robert Brown padlocked them in rooms and left them alone. Investigators said when asked about the children being locked up without supervision Edmiston told them "that is how she punished them."
"It was sickening to me," Brett Whitehead said.
Court records show the state filed a motion to increase bond to $1 million for both defendants after the Johnson County Sheriff's Office received new information that Brown made statements to Edmiston threatening the victims' lives and that she "failed to take any action or respond in any manner to protect the victims."
Neighbors said they're relieved authorities removed the children from the home.
"They were telling me 'thank you. You saved us,'" Emily Whitehead said.
Fischer said they took steps to ensure the safety of the children who are in the custody of the Children's Division.