Two parents in Northern California were arrested after allegedly torturing 10 children, according to local reports. One of the parents denied the allegations against the pair.
The 10 children had lived in squalor, including piles of spoiled food and feces, for years, investigators told SFGate this week. They were also allegedly burned and shot with a BB gun.
Ina Rogers first reported her 12-year-old son missing in March of 2018. He was later found asleep in a bush in a yard.
That’s when authorities first encountered the family. Responding officers then searched the home due to concerns about the child’s welfare and found 9 more children between the ages of 4 months and 11 years old living in unsafe conditions, the SFGate report said.
The children were removed from their home after Ina Rogers contacted authorities to report that her oldest child was missing, police said Monday, May 14.
Officers went to the home in Fairfield 46 miles (74 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco and found filthy conditions, Lt. Greg Hurlbut said.
“Officers located unsafe and unsanitary living conditions including garbage and spoiled food on the floor, animal and human feces and a large amount of debris making areas of the house unpassable,” he said.
Rogers, 30, was arrested on suspicion of neglect last month and released after posting $10,000 bail. She denied her husband had abused the children on Monday.
“There’s no broken bones, there is no major scars, nothing,” Rogers told reporters in front of her house, The Associated Press reported. “My kids get bumped and bruised and scratched because they’re kids but that’s it.”
Rogers gave journalists a tour of the house, a four-bedroom home with scuffed walls and animal feces in the bathroom. Rogers said the children slept in one bedroom because they were close and that cots were stored in a bedroom closet. The home’s other rooms were used as a master bedroom, playroom, and meditation room.
The father, 29-year-old Jonathan Allen, was arrested Friday after the children were interviewed. He has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of torture and nine counts of felony child abuse and was being held on $5.2 million bail.
Sharon Henry, chief deputy district attorney for Solano County, said she was “horrified” by the children’s statements and that torture was carried out in the house “for sadistic purposes.” She declined to elaborate.
“It literally breaks your heart, and you’re outraged by how a parent or anyone could commit those acts,” Henry said.
Neighbors were flabbergasted, and some didn’t know the couple had 10 children.
Tawnya Roth, a next-door neighbor, told SFGate that she was under the impression the couple had three children.
“My daughter was saying that when she was home at Christmastime, she saw some kids out there,” Roth told the website. “And when they first moved in, we heard kids playing out in the backyard late at night. But that was really the only time. Once in a while we’d see a kid, but I didn’t even know that they were theirs.”
Larry Magney, who lives across the street, said the couple moved in about one year ago. He said he was unaware that they had children until Rogers approached him in March, asking about her missing son.
Magney recalled her asking him: “Is there a way I can check your backyard, because my son is … missing or ran away?” He said that it wasn’t likely because his dog would have barked.
“She was pretty concerned, and she was like, you know, running around the neighborhood,” Magney said. “I walk my dog at least twice a day, and my wife works out of our house,” he said. “If there’s any activity here, we would kind of know.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.