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California police find 3 children starving, 1 chained to floor of filthy house

Three starving children — including one who was chained to the floor to prevent her from getting food — were found last month in the squalid home of a Northern California couple, authorities said.

All three — two boys and a girl — were taken into protective custody, and one was hospitalized, Monterey County Sheriff Scott Miller said Friday.

Authorities discovered them in the Salinas, Calif., home on March 14 after two of the young people missed appointments, according to several published reports.

"It was a particularly heinous case," Miller told the Monterey Herald. The children had "hardly eaten for months."

The boys are 3 and 5 years old, and the girl is 8, authorities said, and they all exhibited bruises and signs of other physical as well as emotional abuse.

The girl, who appeared to have suffered the most extreme abuse, was chained to the floor to prevent her from getting any food, they said.

"It seems that the little girl was the major target of this abuse," Miller continued, adding that she looked "like a concentration camp victim."

The girl was in the hospital for about five days, he said, and seemed "traumatized."

There was evidence that she was may have been put in the closet as well as that she was sometimes shackled at the ankle and at other times by a collar around her neck, Miller said.

Eraca Dwan Craig, 31, and Christian Jessica Deana, 44, were both arrested at the scene on suspicion of felony child cruelty, false imprisonment and other charges.

The women, who are domestic partners, do not appear to have criminal records in Monterey County. They were both arraigned in Monterey County Court on Tuesday and are scheduled for a preliminary hearing on March 28.

Authorities said the women seemed to be making preparations to leave before they were arrested.

Investigators found little food inside the home, which was cluttered and dirty, according to reports.

The girl and the older boy were adopted children, and the younger boy is the biological son of one of the women, Miller said.

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Information from: The Monterey County Herald, http://www.montereyherald.com

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