A Florida woman and man, husband and wife, were arrested in connection with what a more than 25-year law enforcement veteran described as “some of the most appalling examples of child neglect that I’ve ever heard of.”
Brittany Leanne Kirschenhofer, 32, and husband Oscar Torres, 40, both of Port St. Lucie, each were arrested n three felony counts of aggravated child abuse, according to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.
Initial allegations include that three of five children were malnourished and abused. A 17-year-old and twin 16-year-olds – the children of Torres – were identified as victims.
Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Brian Hester said one child weighed about 50 pounds and “was found hallucinating with loss of verbal communication, muscle control and other bodily functions.”
Hester said there was plenty of food in the home, and the home was not in deplorable condition.
Two other younger children — one, the child of Kirschenhofer, the other a child of Kirschenhofer and Torres — did not appear neglected, Hester said.
His agency and the state Department of Children and Families on Feb. 10 went to the home after an anonymous complaint.
Initially, he said, investigators got answers to questions, including doctor’s statements about the children being “behind from their normal growth process or small for their age.”
Hester said the investigation revealed a chain lock on the door of the bedroom the teens shared.
One reported being “terrified” of the parents, and having to scavenge secretly for food scraps.
Hester said Torres indicated he worked long hours, and Kirschenhofer, a stay-at-home mom, was responsible for the children.
He said that on Feb. 22, DCF decided to remove the three teens. They are with their biological mother, whom Hester said was unaware of the alleged abuse and isolated from the family.
The other children are with other relatives, as opposed to DCF custody.
Kirschenhofer and Torres were held in the St. Lucie County Jail, each on $90,000 bond, according to the Sheriff’s Office.