3 children starving, 1 chained to floor

Two women are accused of child neglect after Monterey Co. officials found three children in various stages of malnutrition.
March 21, 2014 7:38:21 PM PDT
Three starving children - including one who was chained to the floor to prevent her from getting food - were found last month in the squalid home of a Northern California couple, authorities said. Thirty-three-year-old Eraca Craig and 44-year-old Christian Deanda were arraigned Friday on charges of child neglect after Monterey County sheriff's deputies discovered three children in various stages of malnutrition.

A 3-year-old boy and a 5-year-old boy were found along with an 8-year-old girl, whom Sheriff Scott Miller described as looking like a concentration camp prisoner. The girl was chained to a four-foot high post, and a collar was discovered, which the sheriff believes was also used to restrain her and to keep her from getting to food.

ABC7 News has confirmed that Craig worked as a prison guard in New Mexico before moving to California.

The Sheriff's Office was asked to check on the welfare of the children on March 14. The arrests were made on March 15. Details were not released until early this morning. The sheriff said the delay was caused by the ongoing investigation.

ABC7 News went to neighbors' houses and spoke to them in English and Spanish about whether they had ever seen children at the house. No one had. They also said they had never seen the two women who were arrested. The house is just outside the city limits of Salinas on Russell Road in Monterey County. Toys covered in cobwebs are scattered around the yard. The windows of the house at 59A Russell Road are all covered. Two neglected dogs are on the property, one in a fenced area and one in a large cage.

Child Protective Services director Elliott Robinson, who could only speak in general terms and not about the specifics of this case because of the age of the victims, said the children of neglect and abuse are placed in foster care and are offered a wide range of psychological and medical care.

The sheriff confirmed that the three children have been placed in foster care separately. He said two children are adopted and the third (not clear which one) is a biological child of one of the women

Dr. Misty Navarro, an emergency room physician at Salinas Valley Memorial Heathcare System, said children who are malnourished can face developmental and psychological issues, and it is a long road to recovery.

Miller said the conditions in the house were cluttered and dirty, and it was difficult for the deputies to handle what they saw when they discovered the children.

Miller said they were apparently 5-year-old and the 8-year-old were home-schooled and never left the house. He did not say who asked his agency to do a welfare check.

The women remain in jail. Bail was originally set at $50,000 each, but the court raised the amount.

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