A couple from Tampa, Fla. was charged with child abuse and neglect on March 27 after police accused them of refusing to feed their twin 16-year-old boys, each of whom weighed in at under 100 pounds.
Doctors who examined the boys say one weighed 94 pounds and the other just 84 pounds. Doctors estimate for their age they should weigh at least 135 pounds. ~ ABC News
In addition to starving the kids, more charges could be brought against the mom, Jamie Hicks, 43, and stepdad, Vernon Lovell, 53, as the investigation into allegations of beating and assaulting the children continues.
Hicks was charged with two counts each of child neglect and aggravated child abuse. Lovell was charged with two counts of child neglect.
In addition to the twin 16-year-olds, there were six other children living with Hicks and Lovell. Authorities with the Tampa Police Department are waiting on the results of medical tests from the other six kids.
On Tuesday, the mother called police to report that her 10-year-old and 13-year-old boys were missing. Police found the boys a short time later “walking on U.S. 41 near County Line Road.”
Those two boys appeared to be well dressed and healthy, with no outward signs of abuse, according to police. It was their behavior, and reluctance to being interviewed by the authorities which police found to be suspicious. They boys were described by police as “shying away and afraid.”
"What was so disturbing about this case, as you peeled back the layers of the onion, the stories that poured out are truly chilling," said Laura McElroy, Tampa Police Department spokeswoman.
McElroy said all eight children were interviewed separately and their stories were consistent.
All of the children went on record as telling the detectives that Hicks and Lovell just refused to feed the twin teens. When the twins tried stealing food from the home, the kids told the cops that Hicks would “stick her finger down their throat to cause them to vomit it back up as a punishment.”
Throughout the interviews, all of the kids separately and consistently informed detectives that:
"… they had been slapped, choked to the point of unconsciousness, kicked, were forced to eat old and moldy food and when they threw it up, the mother would force them to eat their vomit."
McElroy suspects that the neglect and abuse went unnoticed because all the children were home-schooled and not allowed out of the yard.
All of the children from the home are currently in foster care.
Both Hicks and Lovell are free on bond.
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