TUCSON, Ariz. — A couple accused of the imprisonment of three
girls in filthy conditions in a Tucson house made initial court appearances
Wednesday on charges of kidnapping and child abuse.
Tucson police said the girls are sisters — ages 12, 13 and 17 — and their
mother and stepfather were arrested Tuesday.
A judge on Wednesday set bail of $100,000 for the stepfather and $75,000 for
their mother. They face multiple counts of kidnapping and child abuse and the
man also faces one count of sexual abuse.
The brief court appearances made by video did not include entering pleas, and
it’s not immediately clear whether the 34-year-old man and 32-year-old woman
have attorneys. The Associated Press is not naming the adults to avoid
identifying the children.
Tucson Police Capt. Michael Gillooly said Tuesday at a news conference that all
three girls were malnourished and dirty, and they told officers they hadn’t
taken a bath in up to six months.
“They were kept in filthy living conditions,” said Gillooly, adding that the
two youngest girls were kept in a separate bedroom from their oldest sister.
The girls also told authorities that they were fed only once daily and had been
imprisoned in their bedrooms for at least the past several months and possibly
up to two years.
“They had not seen each other for quite some time,” said Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor. “Comments to each other about the change in appearance and statements that they made gave indication that they had not seen each other for a substantial period of time.”
The eldest daughter kept a journal of her imprisonment, Villasenor said. The journal said the home was full of video camera and alarms to monitor the girls’ movements. The rooms the girls were kept in also had music playing at all times.
“I don’t know what the reasons were but what we’re being told by the girls is the music never stopped,” said Villasenor.
Police went to a home on reports of a domestic violence incident about 4 a.m.
Tuesday, according to Gillooly.
The youngest girls told officers that they ran to a neighbor’s home after
their stepfather kicked in the door and threatened them with a knife. The
unidentified neighbor called 911.
When officers went into the house, Gillooly said they found the oldest girl in
Gillooly declined to answer any questions about the case. More information was
expected to be released Wednesday.
A resident who has lived in the neighborhood for about five years told the
Arizona Daily Star that she didn’t know anyone was living in the home, which is
set back from the street.
The woman said there was no visible activity at the house, but other neighbors
had told her that they had heard what sounded like children playing inside the
house at night.
The paper reported that police removed plastic bags containing evidence from the home and what appeared to be a computer.
KTAR’s Caroline Harlow contributed to this report.