Three Tucson, Ariz., girls were rescued Tuesday and shockingly told police they had been held captive for about two years. Now their mother and stepfather face kidnapping and abuse charges.
The girls’ stepfather, Fernando Richter, 34, and mother, Sophia Richter, 32, face three charges of kidnapping, child abuse/emotional abuse and child abuse/physical abuse, WBTV reports. The stepfather also was charged with one count of sexual abuse with a person under 15 years of age, police said.
The children, who are sisters ages 12, 13 and 17, have been removed from the home, said Tucson Police Capt. Mike Gillooly. He said the younger girls escaped to a neighbor’s house after their stepfather kicked down their bedroom door and threatened them with a knife. The third girl was found in a bedroom in the house after police received a 911 phone call at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning regarding a domestic dispute that involved a knife.
Authorities said when the girls were found they were malnourished and extremely dirty. The sisters told police they hadn’t bathed in nearly six months and were fed only once a day. According to Gillooly, the living conditions they were subjected to were filthy, and the two younger sisters were separated from the 17-year-old. The younger girls said they hadn’t seen their older sister in two years.
The neighbor who called police did not want to be identified, Tucson News Now said, but the neighbor described the girls as being “small and unkempt.” When they asked the neighbor for help they were reportedly hysterical and visibly shaking. People in the neighborhood said they didn’t even know children lived in the house.
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"I can assure you we're doing everything we can to make sure these kids are kept safe," Gillooly said in his statement to press, as quoted by CBS 5. “Detectives are working very diligently to try to solve this case and put all the pieces together so the people responsible for this can be held accountable.”
Click here to view Gillooly’s prepared statement via WBTV.
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