A Houston-area couple was arrested in Louisiana Tuesday after two abused children turned up at a home early that morning near their Texas neighborhood, according to authorities and a court document.
Harris County deputies responded around 5:30 a.m. ET Tuesday to a home in Cypress for a welfare check on the brothers, where a woman told deputies the twins knocked on the door. from their home and “said they had run away from their mother’s house,” according to a report. criminal complaint filed Tuesday in Harris County District Court.
“The twin brothers were covered in bruises, barefoot and partially clothed. The brothers said they were starving,” the complaint says.
The children’s mother, Zaikiya Duncan, 40, and her partner, Jova Terrell, 27, were arrested in Louisiana, according to Ted Heap, the Harris County Sheriff’s Precinct 5. Nick Manale, spokesman for the State Patrol of Louisiana, said the couple was arrested after a fugitive traffic stop.
An amber alert for Duncan’s five other children, who range in age from 7 to 14, was lifted when state police found them to be an 18-year-old man described as the children’s brother, authorities said. A child was with the couple when they were taken into custody, Manale said.
As of Friday, the twins discovered in Texas are still in the hospital, Harris County Sheriff’s Precinct 5 spokesman Jeff McShan told CNN.
The boys were “severely malnourished” and had “skin lacerations consistent with being handcuffed,” according to the complaint, witnessed by a Harris County police corporal who met with the twins.
The girl had a gray plastic bag around her neck that she said she wore as a shirt, and the brothers said they were handcuffed to a wheelbarrow in their mother’s laundry room, the court document says.
According to the complaint, the children said their mother “made them drink chemicals like bleach, Lysol, and sprayed ‘easy-remove’ oven cleaner in their mouths if they talked too much.”
The teens had no recollection of the last time they showered, they only had access to a mop bucket containing dirty water and had to urinate and defecate on themselves, the document says.
One of the twins said Terrell hit and punched him, the complaint adds.
The twins said the abuse began in July, according to the court document.
CNN has not been able to determine whether Terrell or Duncan have legal representation. The couple is still awaiting extradition to Texas.
Terrell’s uncle, Alfred Terrell, told CNN on Friday, “Jova has never been involved in anything like this before and ultimately I think he didn’t know about any of these allegations,” adding that he had not been in contact or contacted by him. either Jova Terrell or Duncan before or after the arrest.
According to the complaint, Duncan could face two counts of aggravated assault and assault on a family member with a prior conviction. Terrell could face charges of continued violence against the family, he said.
The complaint says Duncan was previously convicted of cruelty to a minor, committed against a family member and household member, in October 2019.