Three adults have been arrested for child abuse after three children under the age of 12 were allegedly locked in an attic for several years while they were beaten with bats, starved and even tortured with a cat.
Two boys, aged 11 and 12, and a nine-year-old girl were rescued by police last month after the eldest child managed to escape 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.
Police told WFMZ the horrific allegations leveled against the three adults are unlike anything they have seen before and only came to light after the 12-year-old boy escaped and alerted a stranger at a nearby school who called 911.
Todd Richter, 32, and his fiancé Jennifer Yost, 27, are both charged with child abuse after they allegedly abusing Richter’s three children, aged 9 to 12, at their home in Minersville, Pennsylvania
The boy had told the stranger that his brother and sister were being held inside the home.
Police found the boy’s two emaciated siblings covered in cuts and bruises inside the home.
Yost’s mother, Wendy Yost, 51, has also been charged with abusing the children
Authorities said a weeks-long investigation had determined the adults had kept the children locked in the attic for at least two years and deprived them of food and water.
The children were beaten regularly with bats, mallets, 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 agitating the animal and then placing it on the children’s stomach so it would scratch and claw them.
The children also told police they were often given moldy scraps to eat and that they would fill an old peanut butter jar with rain water from a drain outside the window just so they could drink something.
When police eventually raided the home, they reported a strong urine odor coming from the attic area where the children said they were kept.
They found containers filled with urine and liquid feces inside the attic.
Authorities said a weeks-long investigation had determined the adults had kept the children locked in the attic of the home (pictured above) for at least two years and deprived them of food and water
Richter, his fiancé and her mother have all been charged with endangering the welfare of children, aggravated assault, harassment and a slew of other charges. They have all been denied bail (above leaving court) and are scheduled to face court on Tuesday
A bedframe was allegedly wedged against the door of the attic.
Police said a fourth child, a three-year-old girl, also lived at the home but she showed no signs of being malnourished or abused.
That girl is believed to 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 had certainly cases of child abuse, child sexual exploitation and things like that, but that these children endured this many years of this kind of treatment is beyond anything that I’ve seen,” Combs said.
“The only plus to it is that the children are now safe and getting treatment and won’t be put back in that environment.’
All four children have been placed into protective custody.
Richter, his fiancé and her mother have all been charged with endangering the welfare of children, aggravated assault, harassment and a slew of other charges.
They have all been denied bail and are scheduled to face court on Tuesday.