FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A Florida couple is accused of locking up and starving three teenagers inside their home for several months, authorities said.
Brittany Leanne Kirschenhofer, 32, and her husband, Oscar Torres, 40, both of Port St. Lucie, were arrested Monday and charged with three felony counts of aggravated child abuse, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the sheriff’s office, three of the couple’s five children were malnourished and abused, TCPalm.com reported. A 17-year-old and twin 16-year-olds, who are Torres’ children, were identified as the victims, according to the website.
At a news conference on Tuesday, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Brian Hester said one child weighed about 50 pounds and “was found hallucinating with loss of verbal communication, muscle control and other bodily functions.”
“One of the victims even admitted that they knew what was happening to them was wrong,” Hester told reporters. “And they just couldn’t figure out a way to help their siblings out of this situation.”
Hester said there was plenty of food in the home, and the residence was in livable condition, WPTV reported.
“There was a chain lock on the door to the bedroom shared by the three victims,” Hester said. “The three teenage victims weighed well below the accepted standard for their ages.”
Deputies said one of the three children is still in the hospital, and the other two are living with their biological mother in Fort Lauderdale, WPEC reported.
Two other younger children -- one, the child of Kirschenhofer, the other a child of Kirschenhofer and Torres -- did not appear neglected, Hester told reporters. The children are aged 9 and 6, WPTV reported.
The sheriff’s office and the Florida Department of Children and Families on Feb. 10 went to the home after an anonymous complaint, TCPalm.com reported.
“It wasn’t until more digging and unraveling that our detectives started to find out and DCF started to find out more and more very horrific and concerning things,” Hester told reporters.
The DCF decided to remove the children from the home on Feb. 22, WPTV reported.
The Florida Department of Children and Families decided to remove the children from the home on Feb. 22.
“The details of this case are disturbing and some of the most appalling examples of child neglect that I have heard in my 26 years in law enforcement,” Hester told reporters.
Kirschenhofer has no criminal arrests in St. Lucie County, but Torres has a criminal history in the county stretching to 2006, TCPalm.com reported.
In 2010, Torres was charged with sexual battery by multiple perpetrators after a woman contacted the Sheriff’s Office reporting she had been raped by three men at Torres’ home.
Kirschenhofer and Torres were each released on $90,000 bail, WPEC reported.