Special Needs Kids Removed From Filthy Houston Area Home
Seven special needs children locked in a Houston area home and living in squalor have been rescued, and the adults who kept them locked up refuse to cooperate with police.
The adopted children, ranging in age from 14 to 16, were found locked in a closet at a home in Richmond, Texas on November 23 after Fort Bend County Sheriff's deputies were tipped off by Child Protective Services.
The children's adopted mother, 54-year-old Paula Sinclair, and the man she and the children lived with, 78-year-old Allen Richardson, were arrested Monday, December 5 and charged with felony kidnapping and injury to a child.
The children were reportedly locked in a closet when they were found. CNN reported that they were locked in while Richardson took Sinclair to a nearby hospital.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the children were confined to a single room upstairs that had a dead bolt lock in place of a doorknob and smelled of urine and feces. They shared two beds, two mats, a toilet, and a sink, and their living space was full of clutter, soiled laundry, and garbage. Two of the children were reportedly wearing soiled diapers when they were discovered.
Despite their special needs (at least one of the children has Down syndrome), the children were not enrolled in any school.
Witnesses said Richardson fed the children rice and beans twice a day, and that beatings were administered as punishment.
The children were taken into protective custody, and authorities hope to place them in a safe foster home together.
As an adoptive mother to special needs children, Sinclair could have been receiving as much as $540 per month from the State for each child. She also received $600 per month in child support from her ex husband before marrying Richardson in 2011.
CNN reports that Sinclair and Richardson have been uncooperative with authorities.
In 2007, Sinclair was featured in a Houston Chronicle piece praising her efforts to help special needs children, including operating a special needs daycare business from her home in the early 90's and co-founding a charity with her ex husband: We of Faith Mission.
"I wanted to get these children out of the CPS system because I saw it fail some of these types of children," Sinclair said in the feature. "I do what I do because it is a gift that God has given me. Each second, a child is being abused somewhere, and I am here to help them have a life."
It is currently unclear if Sinclair's ex was aware of the abuse.