House of Horrors: ‘Parents’ finally arrested after 68 police reports alleging abuse of their nine special needs adopted children

An Iowa couple is accused of abusing their adopted, disabled children for years while receiving state subsidies for their care.

According to the Des Moines Register, John Elmer Bell, 55, and Joyce Marie Bell, 57, were arrested and charged with felony child endangerment causing bodily injury on Thursday.

The arrest reportedly followed a investigation into allegations that the couple had been abusing their nine adopted children in their three-bedroom Ankeny home for years. Police reportedly turned over 68 reports of abuse in the home prior to the arrests.

The official probe leading to this week’s arrests reportedly began when the Krystal Bell, the couple’s 21-year-old adopted daughter, sent a video of the parents abusing her adopted brother to Reader’s Watchdog. Bell had also sent video evidence to authorities, posted them on her Facebook page, and had reported the alleged abuse to state workers. The Des Moines register reports that police had received the video in March 2016.

The video reportedly shows John Bell hitting and restraining his autistic 16-year-old son while shouting expletives.

“I will hit you in the f—ing mouth,” Bell reportedly says in the video.

Another adopted daughter, Makayla Bell, had contacted police as far back as March 2009.

“Caller stated that she is being abused by her parents, and she will not go back home,” a March 2009 police report stated, according to the Des Moines Register.

The Bells’s adopted children now range in age from 16 to 38.

On two separate occasions, in 2010 and in July of this year, children were removed from the home, but no criminal charges were filed until this week. Two of the teenage children were reportedly removed from the home and placed in a temporary shelter on July 12 in response to a child abuse call.

The couple reportedly received generous state subsidies for adopting special needs children. The Des Moines Register was unable to determine exactly how much the family received, but reports that nine special needs children could bring in $110,000 a year in the state of Iowa.


Feature photo: Polk County Jail