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Daycare employees arrested after fifteen children found locked in shed

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DECATUR -- The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services received tips that a Decatur daycare was overcrowded, but it's where investigators found the children crowded into that left four adults running the facility arrested.

The house on the 2200 block of Frontier Road looks like any other in the quiet community, but neighbors question what happens inside the in-home daycare facility.

"I know there's a lot of children over there," said neighbor Fred Fyke. "I just wondered if they had a permit."

But investigators with DCFS wondered whether the licensed in-home daycare was operating over-capacity. So they checked-in on Monday, and were initially told the facility was closed. But a few hours later, a relative came by to pick up her niece and nephew, which led to the discovery of 15 children locked in a backyard shed.

"Based on the facts that were presented to us at the time and during our follow up investigation that we felt that criminal charges were warranted," Lt. Jonathan Butts of the Macon County Sheriff's Department.

The owner of the daycare, Marianne Mourning, her children Molli and Myles, as well as her assistant Jennifer Voelker were all arrested and charged with 15 misdemeanor counts of endangering the life of a child and 15 felony counts of unlawful restraint.

"Endangering the life and health of a child is a Class A misdemeanor which is punishable of up to 364 days in the county jail," said Butts. "The Class 4 felony is the least felony, punishable for up to one to three years in the Department of Corrections."
   
And while neighbors had their suspicions, they never expected this.

"This is all news to me really," said Fyke. "I mean surprise that she would lock kids in a shed...oh my god."

Macon County Sheriff's Department is working to notify all parents that used the in-home facility as the investigation remains ongoing.

All four suspects appeared in court Wednesday. Marianne is being held on $10,000 bond, while Molli, Myles and Jennifer were released on $500 bail. They are due back in court July 11.
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