Girl seemed healthy in 2001, police say |

Girl seemed healthy in 2001, police say

F.T. Norton

A girl found starving last week in Carson City had run away from home in 2001, but she was returned to her family after telling a deputy she had been grounded.

“Nothing in the 2001 report indicates she was abused or being held captive,” said Sheriff Kenny Furlong, who took office eight months after the May 19, 2001, incident. “But we are looking at that specific event to determine whether or not anything could have been done to have prevented the outcome.”

On Thursday, a passerby reported seeing an 8-year-old pushing a shopping cart. When deputies found the child on Linda Kay Court, she told them she was 16 years old and had been locked in a bathroom with her 11-year-old brother for years.

Despite the family’s assertion that the boy lived in Los Angeles, he was found severely malnourished and hidden underneath a bed at the family’s Como Street apartment. The two children were admitted to the pediatric unit of Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center and are listed in stable condition. Three other healthy children in the home, ages 9, 12, and 17, were placed in the custody of the state.

The children’s mother, Regina Rios, 33; grandmother Esther Rios, 56; and stepfather, Tomas Granados, 33, are being held on suspicion of felony child abuse and false imprisonment.

According to the 2001 runaway report, the girl, 11 years old at the time, was found at 12:40 a.m. at a Carson City fast-food restaurant.

“I made contact with the child who stated she had run away from home because her mother had grounded her. She stated her mother had punished her because she had not done what she was told,” former Carson City Deputy Jorge Pierrott wrote in the report.

“Esther stated (the victim) had been left at home with her cousin to take care of her. (She) had been punished for not listening to (Esther) and (was) told to stay in her room. When they found out she’d left her room they began to search in the area, but were unable to find her,” Pierrott wrote in the report.

The report indicates the girl weighed 85 pounds when she spoke with the deputy nearly five years ago.

When she was discovered Thursday she weighed 41 pounds and stood 4 feet 1 inch tall. Her brother weighed 31 pounds and stood 3 feet 2.5 inches tall.

Chief Deputy Steve Schuette said the department’s policy is to take children to juvenile detention if they are reported as a runaway or return them to their family if they aren’t.

Records indicate the girl’s family did not report her as a runaway, Furlong said.

“Five years ago, there appeared to be no cause for concern for the child’s welfare,” he said. “It’s obvious now that in the last five years she suffered endlessly.”

A hearing Tuesday regarding the custody of the five children was closed to the public. The result of that hearing, in which all three adults were present, was not released.

A preliminary hearing on the charges against the adults is set for Feb. 3.

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