FORT PIERCE, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida couple was arrested in what investigators are calling one of the “most appalling examples of child neglect” they’ve ever seen.
WPTV reports Oscar Torres, 40, and his 32-year-old wife Brittany Kirschenhofer, both of Port St. Lucie, each face three felony counts of aggravated child abuse.
Authorities responded to the couple’s home after getting an anonymous complaint about the conditions of three teenagers living there.
“There was a chain lock on the door to the bedroom shared by the three victims,” said St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brian Hester.
The couple told detectives the locks on the doors were for their dogs and that the children were able to move around freely.
Hester said all three teens, a 17-year-old and twin 16-year-olds, were underweight. One of them weighed about 50 pounds and “was found hallucinating with loss of verbal communication, muscle control and other bodily functions.”
One teen told detectives they had to “secretly scavenge for scraps of food.”
“The details of this case are disturbing and some of the most appalling examples of child neglect that I have heard in my 26 years in law enforcement,” Hester said.
Two younger children were living at the home, but did not appear to be abused or neglected, authorities said. The children were removed from the home on Feb. 22. The teens are now in the care of their biological mother. The other children are staying with other relatives.
Torres and Kirschenhofer are both being held without bond.