Officials say this is one of the worst cases of child abuse and neglect they have had to witness.
An eight-year-old girl, who officials described as skeletal thin, was found chained to the wall, looking as if she’d barely eaten in months.
Monterey County Sheriff Scott Miller has been in law enforcement for 30 years, but “this is one of those cases that sticks with you for some time,” he said.
“When you’ve got over 30 years in the business you’ve seen way too many of these types of things before,” he said. “But this is, in terms of child abuse and neglect, this is towards the top.”
The two responsible, Eraca Dawn Craig, 31, and Christian Jessica Deanda, 44, domestic partners, were arrested on counts of felony child related charges that include false imprisonment, child endangerment, severe neglect, and abuse. The children — two boys, ages 3 and 5, and an 8-year-old girl were immediately removed from the home and taken to the hospital for treatment.
Craig and Deanda were arrested on March 15. The charges were announced nearly a week later following further investigation, Miller said in a Friday afternoon news conference.
The children were rescued after investigators were tipped off by a caseworker after several appointments were missed, Miller said. He wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the missed appointments but did say the two elder children were home-schooled and therefore not missed at an area school.
“They had concerns as to the welfare of the children,” he said. “They had concerns because of past history.”
Miller wouldn’t comment on whether either woman has a criminal background.
Investigators discovered at the home on Russell Road just outside Salinas city limits, what could only be described as a grisly scene.
“The conditions are reported as squalid,” he said. “There was very little food in the residence. There’s also concern the little girl the 8-year-old was from time to time chained to the wall of the residence and was denied food.”
What was most disturbing was the discovery of twin heavy chains hung suspended from the wall 4 feet off the ground. At the end of the chains, investigators found a collar said to be used to wrap around the little girl’s neck or leg to keep her from seeking out food.
“She was extremely emaciated,” Miller said. “She’s been described as someone who looks like someone who’d been in a concentration camp.”
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