WICHITA, Kan. – Two emaciated girls who told police they ate only when their father wasn't traveling on business, were hospitalized Friday after police found them in an advanced state of starvation.
"It's the worst case of malnutrition I've ever seen," said police Lt. E.J. Bastian, adding that the 6- and 7-year-old girls were so thin when police found them in the home's basement that "they looked like concentration camp survivors."
The girls' stepmother, whose own biological children were found healthy and well-fed upstairs, was taken in for questioning. Their father, who travels frequently on business, would be questioned when he returned to town, police said.
State social workers discovered the girls after receiving a tip and checking in on their welfare. They then called police.
The two emaciated girls told police that they ate whenever their father was home, which wasn't a lot. With the father gone this week and next week, "they were really hoping they could eat this weekend," Bastian said.
Bastian said he was so angry at what he saw that he had to take a walk down the block to regain his composure.
The house had plenty of food and the girls' stepsiblings, a 4-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy, were well cared for. They've been placed in protective custody, where the emaciated girls will go once they are healthy enough to leave the hospital.
A doctor at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita told police that it didn't appear the girls had eaten in six days or had anything to drink in three days, despite the 100-degree-plus temperatures that have baked Wichita this week.
But he also said it was obvious the girls had been starved for much longer than that.
"This isn't a six-day starvation," the doctor told a police officer, Bastian said. "Obviously, these kids have been starved for quite a while."