Three adults have been arrested for child abuse after three children under 12 were reportedly locked in an attic for years while being beaten with bats, starved and even tortured with a cat.
Two boys, ages 11 and 12, and a nine-year-old girl were rescued by police last month after the oldest child managed to escape from the home in Minersville, Pennsylvania, where they were being held.
The children’s father, Todd Richter, 32; his fiancé Jennifer Yost, 27; and her mother, Wendy Yost, 51, have all since been charged with child abuse.
The police said WFMZ The gruesome allegations against the three adults are unlike anything they’ve seen before and only came to light after the 12-year-old boy escaped and alerted a stranger at a nearby school who called the emergency number.
Todd Richter, 32, and his fiancé Jennifer Yost, 27, are both accused of child abuse after allegedly assaulting Richters three children, ages 9 to 12, in their home in Minersville, Pennsylvania.
The boy had told the stranger that his brother and sister were being held in the house.
Inside the house, police found the boy’s two emaciated siblings covered in cuts and bruises.
Yost’s mother, Wendy Yost, 51, has also been accused of abusing the children
Authorities said a weeks-long investigation had determined that the adults had kept the children in the attic for at least two years and denied them food and water.
The children were regularly beaten with bats, hammers, wine bottles and belts, police say.
They were also pushed down the stairs and held underwater in the bathtub.
The adults are also accused of using the family’s cat to torture them by touching the animal and then placing it on the children’s stomach so that it would scratch and claw them.
The children also told police that they were often fed moldy bits and that they filled an old peanut butter jar with rainwater from a drain outside the window to have a drink.
When the police finally raided the house, they reported a strong smell of urine coming from the attic where the children said they were being held.
They found containers filled with urine and liquid feces in the attic.
Authorities said a weeks-long investigation had determined that the adults had held the children in the attic of the house for at least two years (see photo above) and denied them food and water.
Richter, his fiancé and her mother have all been charged with endangering the welfare of children, aggravated assault, harassment and a host of other charges. They have all been denied bail (above leaving court) and are scheduled to be in court on Tuesday
A bed frame would have been clamped to the attic door.
Police said a fourth child, a three-year-old girl, also lived in the house, but she showed no signs of malnourishment or abuse.
That girl would have lived in a separate bedroom away from the other three children.
Minersville Police Chief Michael Combs said the case involving the three children will haunt him.
“We’ve definitely had cases of child abuse, child sexual exploitation and things like that, but having these kids endured so many years of this kind of treatment is all I’ve seen,” Combs said.
“The only plus is that the children are now safe and treated and no longer returned to that environment.”
All four children have been remanded in custody.
Richter, his fiancé and her mother have all been charged with endangering the welfare of children, aggravated assault, harassment and a host of other charges.
All have not received bail and are due to appear in court on Tuesday.