2 Starving Children Found; Family Held

From Associated Press

The mother and grandmother of two starving children, as well as the mother's boyfriend, have been arrested on charges related to child abuse.

A 16-year-old girl who weighed about 40 pounds and her 10-year-old brother, who weighed about 30 pounds, were in stable condition Saturday at Carson-Tahoe Regional Medical Center. Both were severely malnourished.

The girl told deputies they had been confined to the family's apartment bathroom since the family moved to Carson City from Los Angeles about five years ago.

Their mother, Regina Rios, 33, their grandmother Esther Rios, 56, and the mother's boyfriend, Tomas Granados, 33, are accused of locking them in at night or when adults left the home. The suspects were in jail on suspicion of child abuse or neglect and on suspicion of false imprisonment, with bail set at $100,000. They await a Feb. 3 preliminary hearing after making a court appearance Friday.

Three other children in the home, ages 9 to 17, appear to be healthy and are now in social services' custody, deputies said.

Investigators said the starving girl never attended school in Carson City; they were unsure about the starving boy. The other three children were enrolled in schools.

Authorities were led to the home after someone reported an 8-year-old girl pushing a shopping cart full of food Thursday in Carson City.

The girl with the cart turned out to be the 16-year-old.

"She indicated she had run away," Sheriff Kenneth T. Furlong said. "She pleaded with the deputy not to take her back to the house."

The suspects first denied that the children were confined to the bathroom but later admitted locking them there because "they steal food," deputies said.

"What were we supposed to do, lock the refrigerator?" the grandmother was quoted by deputies as saying.

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