DECATUR, Ind. – An Indiana woman accused of keeping her two daughters confined at home for years allegedly failed to educate the now teenage youths, who told authorities their mother gave up on them "a long time ago."
The 64-year-old woman faces three counts of neglect of a dependent.
Police said the woman's daughters were emaciated and pale when officers arrived at their filthy Decatur, Indiana, home in January, to investigate a neglect report. Officers were summoned to the home about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Fort Wayne three days after the teens' mother was hospitalized following a fall inside the home.
Two women who were friends of the girls' cousin had, at his urging, taken the sisters to eat at a fast-food restaurant and then to a shop for groceries because the home was without food a day before the mother fell, according to court documents.
During that trip, the girls did not know how to place a food order at the restaurant and had no social interaction skills at all, according to the affidavit filed Sept. 20 by the Adams County prosecutor. The youngest girl appeared mesmerized by the food products available inside the grocery they visited.
"I always dreamed of this, going to the store," she told the women, according to the affidavit.
A psychologist later found that the sisters — who are now ages 19 and 16 — suffered psychological trauma from "neglect and isolation," according to the affidavit, which states that the sisters suffered from a "lack of any meaningful interaction with others" for several years.
When police were summoned to the sisters' home a few days after their shopping trip, officers found the two-story house unkempt and filled with a foul odor, while the girls were "very skinny" and pale with long, greasy hair.
The sisters, who were taken into the care of child protective services, told officers their mother allowed them outside only to retrieve the mail or newspaper and that they had over time become afraid to venture outside.
She had pulled them from classes when they were young and told them to hide when visitors came to the home. They had no friends, the sisters told investigators.
The youngest girl said "she felt that her mother was stalling her life" and began crying.
"She wanted to be like everyone else: intelligent, respected, have a future and get married," the affidavit states.
The youngest girl, who was enrolled in classes after her plight was discovered, was found by educators to be capable of doing only the most simple of math calculations and was trailing behind even special needs students.
But by the end of the term, she was doing well her teachers regarded her as "a very nice girl and a hard worker."
The girls' mother told police that she had pulled her daughters from school when they were young because they were shy and had home-schooled them for a while but had stopped trying to educate them.
The oldest girl told investigators that her mother "gave up on us a long time ago."
The girls' mother was released on bond from the Adams County Jail last week after a judge entered a not guilty plea on her behalf. A telephone listing for her rang unanswered Monday and court records indicate she had not hired an attorney.