Texas twins escape home after handcuffed, forced to drink bleach: cops
New video footage showed the aftermath of two severely malnourished twins escaping their Texas home and begging for help after they say they were abused and forced to consume human waste, authsay.
Doorbell camera footage obtained by Houston TV station KHOU captured the two malnourished, barefoot and bruise-covered 15-year-olds walking door to door in a Harris County neighborhood requesting help early Tuesday. The boy was shirtless, and the girl was wearing only a plastic grocery bag around her neck as a shirt, according to a court affidavit.
“What happened?” a resident can be heard in the video from KHOU. One of the children responded, “We just need somewhere to be right now.”
After getting turned away from several doorsteps, the teens, who were holding handcuffs they said they’d broken out of, received help from a mother who welcomed them in from the cold and offered food and blankets, KHOU reported.
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The Good Samaritan told Houston TV station KTRK the teens told her, “we are not here to hurt you.” She said the girl was shaking and explained they’d just broken out after their mother handcuffed them in the laundry room.
Harris County authorities transported the children to a Houston hospital, where they were found to be severely malnourished with arm lacerations consistent with being handcuffed, according to an affidavit. Their other injuries included blisters, swollen wrists and hands, and X-rays exams showed older eye and arm fractures, a pediatric doctor reported to authorities.
Their mother, Zaikiya Duncan, 40, was arrested hours later after authorities issued a missing children alert for five other children. She was discovered more than 200 miles away in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. All seven children, including the twins, are now in Child Protective Service custody, authorities said. Her live-in boyfriend, 27-year-old Jova Terrell, was also arrested on an assault charge after one of the children told authorities Terrell punched and struck them multiple times.
It wasn’t known whether Duncan or Terrell had an attorney. They are expected to be extradited to Texas.
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The children told authorities that from July to October, Duncan would force them to drink bleach and Lysol and would spray Easy-Off oven cleaner in their mouths as punishment, according to court documents obtained by USA TODAY. The twins also told authorities that they were forced to eat and drink feces and urine, according to the affidavit.
The kids said Duncan didn’t give food them regularly, wouldn’t allow them to bathe and would beat them with extension cords, curtain rods and other items, the court affidavit states.
The boy who escaped said he’d hidden a handcuff key beneath his tongue after he found it in Duncan’s purse, the affidavit states. The twins, who had been handcuffed to a dolly in their mother’s laundry room, waited to escape when Duncan and Terrell were asleep.
The affidavit showed Duncan was convicted several years ago in Louisiana of cruelty to a juvenile by child desertion.
In 2012, Duncan was arrested in Baton Rouge on a charge of cruelty to juveniles after one of her children, then 5, was taken to a school clinic with injuries, including burns consistent with being submerged in hot water, court records said. It wasn’t immediately known whether that child was one of the twins.
Contributing: The Associated Press