16-Year-Old Girl Rescues Zip-Tied Brothers In Escape From Abusive Home: Police Say

Three injured minors who reportedly escaped Monday from a relative’s home in Phoenix while wearing zip ties on their wrists told authorities that they had been abused and that other children were still restrained in the relative’s apartment.

The victims’ relative, a 33-year-old woman, has been charged with 12 counts of child abuse and kidnapping, according to court records reviewed by HuffPost. (HuffPost is not naming the relative in order to protect the identity of the children.)

A 16-year-old girl and two brothers, ages 10 and 7, said they escaped from the relative’s apartment and knocked on a neighbor’s door seeking help, according to a probable cause statement attached to a release questionnaire obtained by HuffPost.

<span class="copyright">MicroStockHub Illustration: HuffPost; Photo: Getty Images</span>
MicroStockHub Illustration: HuffPost; Photo: Getty Images

The three kids told the neighbor that they had been zip-tied and that the 10-year-old had been struck with a handgun, according to the arrest document, and that other children were being restrained in the apartment.

Officers who responded to the neighbor’s 911 call conducted a “protective sweep” but did not find the woman or other children inside, according to the probable cause statement.

The neighbor told police that bruises and red marks were observed on the children’s hands, wrists and shoulders, according to the probable cause statement,No other children were found in the apartment, though.

One of the boys had “bruises all over his body,” the neighbor said, according to official documents. “More on his face, on the side of his face. And then he had zip ties on his hands. He could barely even walk. He was really pale. He said that he didn’t eat for days.”

The three children were taken into police care and questioned in forensic interviews. They allegedly detailed the abuse suffered in their relative’s home.

Each child allegedly gave police graphic descriptions of physical abuse, including being struck with a gun, shocked with a Taser and suffocated with a plastic bag.

The 16-year-old reportedly told detectives that on Monday, her relative believed the brothers were “touching” her daughter and punished them, according to the probable cause statement. The woman allegedly ordered the 16-year-old to hit her brothers, but the teen said she did not hit them hard, the arrest documents say.

The teenager said that on multiple occasions, her relative used a gun to instill fear by either striking them with it or pressing it to their heads, according to the probable cause statement.

The youngest of the three children told detectives that their relative would tell him he was “going to die” before she assaulted him, according to the court document. A medical examination found several injuries, including older cuts and scars on the 7-year-old’s chest, that appeared to be caused by being stabbed or hit with a gun.

The 10-year-old boy described the siblings’ escape in his police interview, according to the probable cause statement. He allegedly told detectives that while he and the 7-year-old were zip-tied to the bar of a bunk bed, their sistercame into the room with scissors and cut them free.

Police who searched the home reported that they recovered several items that matched descriptions the kids gave of objects used to abuse them, including two Tasers, a black handgun, a knife and zip ties.

The relative was found later Monday in Phoenix and taken into custody along with five other children, police reported. It was unclear how she was connected with the five children.

Detectives reported that she told them the children were taken in from her sister but she felt as if she should have given them up, according to the probable cause statement. It’s unclear if she was speaking only of the three children who had escaped the apartment.

The woman also reportedly told detectives that she was unable to continue caring for the children but believed they would have problems if they went somewhere else, according to the probable cause statement.

A man who went to the apartment Thursday told a reporter he was the father of two children who’d been staying at the woman’s apartment and that he’d been looking for her, unaware she was in custody and facing child abuse charges.

The man said his two children, ages 6 and 3, had also been staying with the woman. “I’m scared for all of them, but I’m just really trying to go find my children,” he told AZ Family.He was later told by Phoenix police that his children were inthe care of child protective services.

According to court records, the relative who was arrested Monday is expected to appear in court on June 24.