Two Longview, Wash., parents are being held without bail on assault and criminal mistreatment charges after authorities found the couple’s five adopted children neglected and malnourished, including a 13-year-old boy who weighed just 49 pounds.
The children told officers the couple wired their kitchen with an alarm system and punished them for stealing food, said Chief Deputy Charlie Rosenzweig of the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office. They became so hungry that they ate dog and goat food and dandelion leaves, he said.
Washington State Children Protective Services alerted deputies to the couple, identified Thursday as Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock.
The couple’s three biological children who lived at home showed no signs of neglect and were left there, Rosenzweig said. A fourth biological child is older and moved out of the home.
Their five adopted children have been placed into protective custody.
Detectives began investigating the couple in March after doctors treated the 13-year-old boy for severe malnutrition, hypothermia, a slow heart rate and a wasting syndrome. Doctors also found he had several broken ribs.
In addition to the boy, the couple’s four adopted daughters were underweight and neglected, Rosenzweig said. Three of the girls range in age from 10-12. The age of the fourth was not released.
The couple had been warned in 2008 about the boy’s medical condition, officers said. One doctor described it as life threatening if they postponed further care.
He has gained 25 pounds and grown one inch since he was placed in protective custody, Rosenzweig said. The girls have gained between 10 and 18 pounds.