This Tuesday photo shows the home where three girls were allegedly imprisoned by their mother and stepfather in Tucson.
(Photo: By Mike Christy, AP)
Police on Wednesday described a dungeon-like existence for three sisters living a north Tucson home until two of them escaped.
Chief Roberto Villaseñor said the children, ages 12, 13 and 17, were held prisoner for up to two years by their mother and stepfather.
Their personal hell came to an end Tuesday morning when the 12- and 13-year-old girls jumped out of a bedroom window and fled to a neighbor's home after the father allegedly burst into the room brandishing a knife, police said.
"The children were quite dirty, covered in dirt and grime and it appeared that they hadn't been cleaned and bathed in quite some time," Villaseñor said during a news conference Wednesday. The girls pounded on a neighbor's door and windows at about 4 a.m., waking him and his wife up."
The neighbor called 911 and said he sat with the girls and consoled them until police arrived.
The neighbor described a fortress and reclusive existence that the family lived under, saying they had security signage around their property and did not interact with others.
The girls told police they hadn't bathed in four to six months and were fed one meal a day, according to a Tucson police statement.
Police said they found the 17-year-old girl in a locked bedroom during a search of the home. The sisters told police that the eldest girl was kept in a separate bedroom from the other two and that they had not seen each other for months, possibly up to two years, police said.
Villaseñor said the parents face three counts of child abuse/emotional abuse and three counts of child abuse, adding that the father also faces one count of sex abuse with person under 15.