California woman arrested for allegedly caging kids

Date: 2006-01-11

California woman arrested for allegedly caging kids


MELISSA MURPHY

AP Worldstream


The owner of a daycare center was arrested for allegedly caging three of her adopted children in locked rooms and forcing one to sleep in a small grilled cupboard, authorities said.

A 13-year-old boy and girls ages 6 and 9 appeared malnourished and were wearing clothes soiled with urine and feces when they were discovered Thursday by sheriff's deputies who acted on a tip and went to the home of Sylvia Jovanna Vasquez, said Sgt. Erik Raney.

Investigators determined the children were locked in their rooms for "extended" periods and were fed "minimal diets of bread, water and peanut butter," Raney said Tuesday. They rarely if ever ventured outside, he said.

"There was documentation from the children describing physical abuse," Raney said. "All of the doors in the residence had external locks, giving the ability to lock the children inside of the rooms."

Another adopted child, a 12-year-old girl, was clean and healthy.

"The 12-year-old was definitely cared for differently than the other three, almost like she was preferred or pampered ... didn't seem to be subject to the same cruelties as the other three," said Raney.

The sergeant said he didn't know if the children were related. All four were turned over to the county's Child Welfare Services.

Vasquez, 50, was arrested for investigation of child cruelty and remained jailed Tuesday, authorities said. She had spoken to investigators, but they declined to comment on a possible motive.

Authorities said Vasquez was licensed to care for up to a dozen children.

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