MINERSVILLE, Pa. - Minersville Police Chief Michael Combs says this is a case that will haunt him - many involving the welfare of children often do.
"No. I've never seen anything like this in Minersville. We've had certainly cases of child abuse, child sexual exploitation and things like that, but that these children endured this many years of this kind of treatment is beyond anything that I've seen," Combs said.
Wendy Yost, Jennifer Yost, and Todd Richter are in custody on child abuse charges after police say they beat three children, all Richter's biological kids. The affidavit details brutal beatings with things like bats and mallets.
The children were also confined to the attic with very little food and water.
"They were using an old peanut butter jar to get rainwater from the gutter to drink," Combs said.
Police say this went on for three years, and no one knew about it. That is until the oldest, a 12-year-old boy, escaped in early March.
"Fortunately, one of our residents saw this young man out pacing around back-and-forth, and although she's used to seeing children running around the streets, this child looked like he was in distress and she just asked him, 'Hey, buddy. Do you need some help,'" Combs said.
The woman called 911, and police responded to the home shortly after. All of the children inside the home on St. Francis Street were immediately removed.
"The only plus to it is that the children are now safe and getting treatment and won't be put back in that environment," Combs said.