Police: Children starved, locked in bathroom
Appeal Staff Writer
A tiny girl found pushing a shopping cart Thursday afternoon told a horrifying story to deputies that resulted in the arrest of her mother, grandmother and mother’s boyfriend.
According to police, Regina Rios, 33, Tomas Granados, 33, and Esther Rios, 56, kept the malnourished 16-year-old girl and her 10-year-old brother locked and starving in a bathroom at 1404 Como St. No. 2. Investigators believe the children had been kept in there for years.
Granados and the Rios women were booked into the Carson City Jail on suspicion of child neglect and false imprisonment.
Sgt. Bob White of the Carson City Sheriff’s Department said deputies responded to a report of an unsupervised 8-year-old pushing a shopping cart near East Second and Harbin streets at 1:52 p.m. When officers found the 41-pound, 4-foot-tall girl, she said she’d just escaped from the bathroom in which she and her little brother were kept.
“She said when her grandmother opened the door, she pushed her inside and locked the deadbolt,” White said. The girl had filled the cart with food from the house and was trying to run away, he said.
Investigators went to the Como Street apartment to speak to the parents and found the three adults and three other healthy children ranging in ages from 9 to 17.
Detective Dave Legros said when the parents were asked about the 10-year-old boy, they said he was staying in Los Angeles, but deputies allegedly found the frightened child hidden under a bed.
White said the bathroom in the master bedroom had a deadbolt lock in place of the doorknob. A blanket was found underneath the sink where the boy allegedly slept and another blanket was found on the floor in front of the door.
White said the boy was the size of a 3-year-old.
Records indicate the girl hasn’t been to school since 1999.
White said the parents claimed the girl had anorexia and was mentally handicapped.
He said he doubted both suggestions.
“The minute the adults were out of the apartment those kids grabbed food and began eating,” he said. “To look at her you’d think she’s 8 years old, but she’s as articulate as can be. I asked her if she knew where she lived and she said, ‘Yes, Carson City.’ She said she’s never really seen the city except for when she ran away in May.”
The girl and her brother were taken to Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center for an examination and were admitted into the pediatric ward.
Detective Dena Lacy, who accompanied both children to the hospital, said the girl said she’d been in the bathroom since the family moved to Carson City from Los Angeles about five years ago.
“She just kept asking me, ‘Am I gonna be free? Do you promise me that I’m going to be free?'” Lacy recalled. “And I told her, ‘I promise you from this day forward you will never live that way again.'”
The other children were taken into the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services.
— Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.