An Arizona couple is behind bars after police say they locked several adopted children in their bedrooms all day without feeding them or allowing them access to other necessities.
ABC reports that Benito Gutierrez, 69, and Carol Gutierrez, 64, were arrested on Tuesday afternoon on charges of child abuse after one of their adopted children snuck out of the suspects’ Tucson home through a bedroom window, and ran to a nearby Family Dollar store. The child asked to use the phone at the store to call his uncle. The employee became suspicious and called 911.
When police arrived, the noted that the young boy was in “disheveled condition,” according to the Pimas County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies went to the couple’s home, where they found the other children, ages 6 to 12, locked inside separate rooms. The kids said they were fed only once per day. Authorities noted that the kids were locked in their rooms for up to 12 hours at a time without any food or water. They were also reportedly denied access to a bathroom and light.
Investigators said that the suspects started locking the children in their rooms in 2011, according to Tucson News Now.
“The children were kept in separate bedrooms which were locked from the outside,” Pimas County authorities said. “No access to food, water, lights or bathroom facilities for up to 12 hours at a time on a regular basis.”
An interim complaint noted that the suspects made many of the kids sleep on soiled bedding and soiled clothing. On weekends, the kids were allowed outside, but had to stay out all day long, as the parents reportedly locked the doors to the home.
“Neighbors who witnessed the children locked outside on a number of occasions would give the children food due to the children telling them they were hungry,” the complaint said.
On Wednesday, Pima County Sheriff’s Detective Patricia Willson stated that the children never told anyone what was going on inside their home. They went to school daily, yet never told their teachers or peers they were being abused at home. The children often went to the nurse and complained of hunger, although they were fed breakfast and lunch at the school.
Linda Heffernan, who said she’s friends with Carol Gutierrez, said that the suspects are not bad parents. She said she was shocked when she heard the allegations. She also said she’s been to home a few times, but admitted that she never went into any of the children’s bedrooms.
“I’m upset. I’m very upset. The people that they’re being portrayed as is not who they are.”
On Wednesday morning, the suspects made their first appearance in court, where a judge set their bonds at $25,000 each.
The children, immediately removed from the home, are now in the custody of social services. The story is still developing. Check back with CrimeOnline as additional details become available.
WATCH NOW: Authorities are giving an update on the shocking child abuse allegations against a Tucson couple >> http://bit.ly/2HzHnhu
Posted by Tucson News Now on Wednesday, February 21, 2018
[Feature Photo: Benito and Carol Gutierrez/Police Handout]