A couple was arrested on suspicion of torturing five of their nieces and nephews in a case that includes allegations of strangulation and branding, police said.
The couple faces multiple counts of corporal punishment and torture.
Former neighbors were in disbelief.
“I want to repeat what you said to me. I can’t believe that,” Brenda Simms, the neighbor next door.
Simms says she’s so certain the allegations of child abuse and torture are not true, that she’d testify to it in court, if she had to.
“They were over there for years,” she said. “I never saw any abuse.”
Last week, Rialto police arrested Jessica Salas-Ruiz and Fernando Inzunza, the aunt and uncle of five children who are now between 11 and 17 years old. It was not immediately clear whether they have an attorney who could speak on their behalf.
Detectives allege the abuse of the children included torture using — branding and strangulation — and happened over the course of four years while the family was living in Rialto on Jackson Street a few years ago.
“They were hit with belts, shot with BB guns and paint guns, made to kneel on rice as a form of punishment for long periods of time, pant leg up so they could feel more painfully,” said Erica Duque, a Rialto police detective.
Police say they arrested the couple during an interview with a social worker in San Bernardino County where the couple now lives.
“Thank God someone listened to the children,” said Nina Jorquez, a neighbor.
Neighbors were wondering whether the children could have been helped earlier.
“Just that there’s were a lot of kids and toys but I didn’t notice them being abused and I’m sorry I didn’t,” Jorquez said.
It wasn’t until the children were left with another family member in Barstow that police say the children felt comfortable enough to report the alleged abuse.
Police say the mother is in and out of the picture and all of children have different fathers.
Source: NBC Los Angeles