Police gather evidence in case of starved kids
Appeal Staff Writer
A 16-year-old girl allegedly held captive in a bathroom for years with her brother, told authorities her grandmother beat her with a stick and withheld food from her when the two children were caught talking in December, a court document states.
Esther Rios, 56, allegedly “beat (the girl) and deprived her from eating for one day because she was talking to her (brother),” according to an affidavit in support of a search warrant served Friday by the Carson City Sheriff’s Department. The girl had bruises on her body consistent with the stick she described, the document states.
The children’s mother Regina Rios, 33, Esther Rios and stepfather Tomas Granados, 33, are all being held on suspicion of felony child abuse and false imprisonment. The trio allegedly kept the girl and her 11-year-old brother locked in the master-bedroom bathroom for about five years while three other siblings, ages 9, 12 and 17, appear to have been well fed and cared for in the family’s Como Street apartment.
In the warrant, investigators asked to photograph and videotape the apartment and to search for a wooden stick or bat, clothing of a size and type fitting the alleged minor victims, keys fitting a deadbolt lock on the bathroom door, articles of bedding the girl described and paperwork pertaining to the victims.
Authorities were alerted to the situation on Thursday afternoon when the girl, who weighs only 41 pounds, allegedly escaped her confinement and was attempting to run away. She was pushing a Smith’s shopping cart she’d filled with clothing and food from her home.
After hearing her story, deputies went to the family’s apartment, and despite the adults’ protests that the girl was “crazy and lying,” discovered the 31-pound boy hidden under a bed.
“Deputies soon located (the boy) who appeared frightened and so malnourished that his bones were sticking out, his head seemed larger than his body and he appeared much smaller than his reported age,” the affidavit states.
The girl also said she’d hid one of her grandmother’s sticks, a hairbrush, scissors and a Gameboy in the bathroom vent and other sticks could be found behind the couch.
On Friday night, detectives carried out of the apartment several sticks and bags of evidence seized in the search.
“(The victim) told officers that she slept on the floor of the bathroom on a blanket and her brother slept in a cabinet under the sink,” the report states. Investigators said two blankets were found in that position when the home was first entered Thursday.
The document also states the girl said she last attended school in third grade in Los Angeles. Investigators were unable to locate school records for the boy.
“The appearance of the children indicate that they have been deprived of adequate nutrition for prolonged periods of time. Both are emaciated,” Detective Dave Legros wrote in the court document.
Legros also stated in the document the reason investigators wanted to take the victims’ clothing was to “document the amount and character of victims’ clothing compared to the other children in the household, in order to corroborate their descriptions of being locked up inside for years without being allowed outside.”
All of the children are in the emergency custody of the state. The two victims have been admitted into Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center.
A preliminary hearing for the adults is set for Feb. 3. They are each being held on $100,000 bail.
The charge of felony child abuse with substantial bodily harm carries a sentence of two to 20 years in prison.
n Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.