Mother removed children from lease
Eight months after Esther Rios, her daughter Regina Rios and five children moved into a Como Street apartment in spring 2000, Regina Rios removed two children from the lease, according the complex’s former manager.
The children didn’t leave 1404 Como Street No. 2, though. They apparently were kept in a bathroom.
The Rios women and Tomas Granados have been charged with child abuse and false imprisonment. According to authorities, the trio allegedly held Regina Rios’ 16-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son captive and starving in the apartment’s master bathroom for years. Three other children in the home were healthy.
The girl, who weighed 41 pounds when discovered, told investigators she’d been kept in the bathroom with her brother for about five years.
“They seemed like a regular family. There was nothing unusual about them,” said former manager Bev Singleton, a teaching assistant with the Carson City School District.
Singleton said when Regina Rios rented the apartment in April 2000, Regina explained she moved the family to Carson City from Los Angeles because her oldest son was 11 and she was concerned he would become involved in gangs.
In October 2000, when Singleton noticed there was a man living in the apartment, she asked Regina about it and Regina said she and Granados had been married. The lease was amended to show Granados as a tenant. At the same time, Regina asked to have two children taken off the lease. Singleton said Regina told her the children had left to live with family in Los Angeles.
Though Singleton didn’t see much of Esther Rios, Regina and Granados would barbecue out front or have Super Bowl parties and invite neighbors.
Singleton said none of the children were enrolled in school until she contacted a truant officer. It appears the three healthy children were enrolled in Carson City schools in 2003. Investigators have said the two victims never attended school here.
Singleton’s son, who had befriended Regina’s oldest boy, now 17, was often in the Rios house.
“They were close,” she said. “I can’t believe this.”
Shortly after the Rioses rented the apartment, a leak in the master bathroom caused owner Stewart White to send in a crew for repairs, he said.
White said a few months later the front bathroom was rejuvenated. “There were five kids and there were all happy and healthy and running around” was his understanding.
This past spring new windows were installed.
“I’ve talked to the guy who did the front windows and he said that he didn’t see any skinny kids,” White said. “The only kids he saw were a healthy girl and an older kid arguing with someone out front.”
White said whenever work needs to be done on the apartments, he gives his tenants “a couple days'” notice.
“Maybe they just hid them then,” he speculated.
Singleton, who has lived in east Carson since 1985, said she was stunned to hear of the charges.
Having grown close to the oldest boy through her son’s friendship, she worries people will put the blame on the three healthy children, who apparently never told anyone what was happening in their home.
“Can you imagine the double life they were leading and how horrible it would have to be? Those kids were at a young, impressionable age when it began happening and they were taught this was how it had to be.
“I know a lot of kids who live with dark secrets in their family. They are ashamed but still very loyal to their parents,” she said. “This was not a good family, but it was the family these children knew. I do not blame the children. I put the blame fully on the parents. All these children are victims and I hope these other three are not forgotten.”
– Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 881-1213.
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