CYPRESS, Texas (TCD) -- A 40-year-old mother and her 27-year-old live-in boyfriend were arrested after two teenagers who were reportedly starving and "covered with bruises" escaped and sought help.
On Oct. 18, the Harris County Constable Precinct 5 issued an Amber Alert on behalf of five children who range in age from 7 to 14 years old, as well as an 18-year-old who was believed to be traveling with Zaikiya Duncan and Jova Terrell. The couple was later located in Louisiana, but the constable said only one of the children was with them. The others were reportedly at a relative’s home.
The Amber Alert was reportedly set off when two teens reportedly started knocking on doors around their Cypress neighborhood asking for help. According to the criminal complaint, on Oct. 18 at approximately 5:30 a.m., 15-year-old twins, a male and female, knocked on a door on Great Pines Drive and said they escaped from their mother’s house.
The twins were reportedly "covered with bruises, were barefoot, and were partially clothed. The siblings stated that they were starving." They were transported to Texas Children’s Hospital — West Campus in Houston, and the responding officer from Constable Precinct 5 noticed the teens "had lacerations on their skin consistent with being restrained with handcuffs/wrist restraints."
The female 15-year-old reportedly "had a gray plastic bag around her neck that she stated she used as a shirt."
Their mother, Duncan, allegedly locked them in the laundry room and "made them drink chemicals such as bleach [and] Lysol, and would spray 'Easy-Off' oven cleaner in their mouths if they talked too much."
Additionally, Duncan allegedly poured bleach on their bodies, including their genitalia. The teens were reportedly forced to use a bucket when they needed to use the restroom. One time when the male defecated, Duncan allegedly "made them both eat it" and drink his urine.
The teens were reportedly abused with extension cords, curtain rods, and other metal poles. Duncan reportedly gave them "a mustard sandwich, relish sandwich or bologna sandwich 1-3 times a week," and they drank water from the water supply valve in the laundry room for the washing machine.
One time, Duncan allegedly gave the male 24 Benadryl tablets, which caused him to seize. She then allegedly gave him 20 tablets "to ensure that he goes to sleep."
Terrell reportedly punched the male, and X-rays showed he suffered an orbital blowout fracture. The girl also had trauma to her hands, which the complaint described as "deformed and swollen."
The male reportedly told investigators he found a key in his mom’s purse to the handcuffs used to restrain him and his sister. He reportedly hid the key in his mouth until Duncan fell asleep and then they escaped.
The abuse has allegedly been occurring since approximately July 1.
In October 2019, Duncan was reportedly convicted of cruelty to juvenile by child desertion.
KPRC-TV reports Duncan and Terrell were arrested by Louisiana State Police in Baton Rouge, and the victims are in the custody of Child Protective Services.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office has reportedly accepted charges of first-degree injury to a child.
Jail records indicate Duncan and Terrell are in custody at the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail in Louisiana.