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SALISBURY, Maryland — Three children in Maryland were beaten and reportedly locked up and fed on bread and water, oatmeal and sometimes dog feces, authorities said Wednesday.
Amanda R. Wright, 29, and Besline Joseph, 25, both of Mardela Springs, were arrested Wednesday and charged with multiple counts of child abuse involving the children in their custody.
Investigators determined the three victims, ages 8, 9 and 10, lived with Wright and her live-in girlfriend, Joseph.
The investigation has revealed that since late spring or early summer of 2017, the three children endured physical beatings on a number of occasions from both suspects, according to police, and the beatings are believed to have been inflicted with hands, extension cords, belts, sticks and other objects.
The children sustained bloody noses, bruises and cuts, police said. The investigation also revealed Wright and Joseph assaulted the children multiple times with an electronic control device.
Investigators also learned the children were reportedly locked in closets and a basement, with a limited time when they were not confined. They were threatened with death if they told anyone about the abuse, police said.
Wright and Joseph are charged with three counts each of first-degree child abuse, second-degree child abuse, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, neglect of a minor, stalking, use of a dangerous weapon with intent to injure, false imprisonment and one count each of causing ingestion of a bodily fluid, preventing/interfering with report of suspected child abuse or neglect, and conspiracy to commit first degree child abuse.
On Friday, Maryland State Police got information on allegations of child abuse involving the suspects.
The Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division immediately started an investigation, in cooperation with Child Protective Services personnel assigned to the Wicomico Child Advocacy Center, police said.
Based on the allegations, Child Protective Services officials removed the three children from the home the night the investigation began and have asked state police not to release additional details that may identify the children.
Echoes of other recent abuse cases
Earlier this month, authorities in California discovered 13 siblings being raised in appalling conditions. In that case, officials said David and Louise Turpin, of Perris, Calif., kept their children in filth, chained to furniture and denied them food.
One of the children, age 17, managed to escape and call 911.
In July, authorities removed five children from a home in Accomack County on the Virginia Shore, saying Malista Ness-Hopkins, 39, of Mears was keeping two toddlers in makeshift cages.
All the children were living in filth, with dirty diapers, lice and insect bites, according to social workers and an investigator.
A social worker said one of the children hissed at her and made "animal sounds" as she worked to get the girl out of her cage.
Ness-Hopkins was indicted in October on five counts of child abuse.
USA Today reports were used in this article.