Doctor shocked by children’s conditions |

Doctor shocked by children’s conditions

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer
Pediatrician Dr. Kathi Amrhein said at a press conference Monday that the two children recovering from years of starvation and abuse are doing well in the pediatric unit of Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, but have months of recovery ahead of them. Chad Lundquist/ Nevada Appeal

Two children allegedly starved and kept locked in a bathroom for years looked like death-camp survivors, a doctor said Monday.

Pediatrician Kathi Amrhein said the siblings, a 16-year-old girl who weighs 41 pounds and her 11-year-old brother, who weighs 31 pounds, could gain some height and weight with rehabilitation, but not what they should.

“It will take months to get these kids up to semi-normal. They will never reach their target height,” she said at Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, where the children are in stable condition in the pediatric unit. “I’ve seen pictures of the Holocaust. That’s exactly what these kids look like.”

Deputies discovered the children Thursday after a state worker reported seeing an 8-year-old girl pushing a shopping cart full of food and blankets. It turned out to be the 16-year-old girl, who told deputies she was running away because she had been locked in a bathroom with her younger brother for the past five years, surviving on bologna and suffering beatings for talking.

Their grandmother, Esther Rios, 56; mother, Regina Rios, 33; and the mother’s boyfriend, Tomas Granados, 33, were jailed on suspicion of child abuse or neglect and false imprisonment. Both Rios women allegedly said the children were locked up during the night and when no one was home because they stole food.

Medical center spokeswoman Mary Woods said the children are being cared for by a special team of nurses, a pediatrician, a dietitian, a social services worker, physical and occupational therapists and a clinical psychiatrist.

“They are eating, watching TV, and doing the same things that normal kids their age do,” she said. “They are very thankful for all the support, and they are feeling the love from the community.”

Dr. Amrhein said renourishment will be a delicate process. If it happens too fast it could cause some organs to fail such as the heart, kidneys and lungs. She said it’s unclear what long-term effects the starvation will have on their bodies, but the girl will have more to overcome because she is older.

“I’m surprised you could live on bologna alone for this length of time,” Amrhein said. “Other than when I was a resident and people would bring in their kids dead that they had beaten, this was the next worse thing to being dead as far as I’m concerned.”

The Rios women and Granados are being held in protective custody in the Carson City Jail on $100,000 bail each. A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 3.

— Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.

You can help

Gifts for the children may be sent to the Division of Child and Family Services:

Attention: Crystal Main, 1572 E. College Parkway No. 161, Carson City, NV 89706

Monetary donations can be made to an education, medical and basic needs fund for the children set up by the Carson City Deputies Association at any Bank of America branch to the Second Chance Fund:

Acct. No. 005011351167

Mail-in donations may be sent to the Second Chance Fund c/o Carson City Sheriff’s Protective Association, 901 E. Musser St., Carson City NV 89701