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January 23, 2006
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Sheriff amazed by children's survival in Nevada imprisonment case

Associated Press Writer

RENO, Nev.- Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong says he's amazed by the survival of two emaciated children who say they were locked in an apartment bathroom and starved for the past five years.

When the siblings were found Thursday, the 16-year-old girl weighed about 40 pounds, and her 11-year-old brother weighed about 30 pounds. The pair were in stable condition Sunday at a hospital, while their grandmother, mother and the mother's boyfriend were in jail.

"The little girl appeared to be a Holocaust victim," Furlong told The Associated Press. "There's no meat or muscle whatsoever. We're talking absolute starvation. It was the same thing for the little boy."

Deputies were led to the home after someone reported seeing an 8-year-old girl pushing a shopping cart full of food within a block of the sheriff's office. It turned out to be the 16-year-old girl, who told deputies she was running away because she had been locked in a bathroom at night or when adults left the apartment.

"Right now, there doesn't seem to be anything that conflicts with anything the girl has said," Furlong said, adding the bathroom door appeared damaged as if someone had broken out.

Detectives now plan to focus on the suspects' background after combing the apartment for clues.

Their grandmother, Esther Rios, 56; mother, Regina Rios, 33; and the mother's boyfriend, Tomas Granados, 33, were jailed on suspicion of child abuse or neglect and false imprisonment in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Investigators said the girl had not attended school since her family moved to Carson City from Los Angeles about 2000. It was uncertain whether her brother attended school, but he had not been enrolled recently.

Three other children in the home, ages 9 to 17, attended school in Carson City. They were placed in the custody of social services workers and appeared to be healthy.

Furlong said it's one of the worst cases he's seen in nearly 30 years of law enforcement.

"I don't know how the girl or her brother survived," he said.

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