WESTGATE, IA – A man is in jail after police discovered his girlfriend’s 5 children locked in a room and denied food and a toilet, a stunt police say he has pulled before, sometimes leaving them locked up for 24 hours.
On September 19 at about 9:00 AM, Fayette county deputies responded to 220 Olive Street in Westgate, Iowa, for a report of a disturbance involving a man and a women who were yelling. Once deputies arrived, they could hear yelling coming from inside the house and witnessed several small children in a window crying. Deputies then gained entry and found that five small children ranging from 3 to 9 years of age had been locked into a bedroom.
After an investigation, deputies determined that the a male subject, 28-year-old Joshua Raymond Steinbronn, had locked the children in the room for hours denying them food and restroom. Further investigation showed that Joshua Steinbronn had on several different occurrences locked the five children in a room and left them for over 24 hours at a time. The children reported to authorities that they had to urinate in cups and sometimes on the floor due to being locked into the room for such a long period of time. Authorities at this time are not sure on the role the mother played in this incident, however, the Department of Human Services were called in and took custody of all the children.
Steinbronn was arrested and transported to the Fayette County Jail and charged with five counts of serious misdemeanor false imprisonment and five counts of aggravated misdemeanor child endangerment.
As a result of the incident, a search was also conducted and drug paraphernalia was found. A charge of possession of drug paraphernalia was also filed. As a result of the search, charges were also filed on 22-year-old Megan Elise Owens, and 20-year-old Traeton Dean Wilharm – who were renting a room at the residence – for possession of drug paraphernalia.
The mother of the five children – Jonya Smith – is currently being investigated to determine if she had any part in the child endangerment and remains under investigation. Steinbronn was released the next day by the courts on a $5,000.00 unsecured bond and a no-contact order was issued to protect the children.