Ten children have been removed from a home in Northern California, where police say they were tortured and living in “horrible” conditions.
The investigation began March 31 after police brought a 12-year-old who was reported missing back to a house in the 2200 block of Fieldstone Court in Fairfield, Calif., about 46 miles northeast of San Francisco. The boy had been asleep under a bush in the yard of a nearby home, according to a police statement on Monday.
Upon entering the residence of Ina Rogers, police discovered that nine of her other children, ranging in age from 4 months to 11 years, were living in “unsafe and unsanitary” squalor. The 10 children were taken into protective custody by Solano County Child Welfare services and then placed in the care of other family members.
Rogers, 30, the children’s mother, was arrested on the night of March 31 and booked into Solano County Jail for child neglect. Then, on Friday, 29-year-old Jonathan Allen — who is the father of the majority of the children, according to Rogers — was also arrested, charged with nine counts of felony torture and six counts of felony child abuse.
Authorities on Monday for the first time detailed the disturbing conditions of the couple’s home, which has shocked neighbors in the tree-lined cul-de-sac, who said they did not know 10 children were living in the house. Human and animal feces, urine, garbage and rotten food littered the floor, while heaps of debris blocked off certain areas of the house, the police statement said. There, the children not only lived in filth but were victims of physical and emotional abuse. In the six weeks since their mother’s March arrest, the eight older children described to authorities several incidents of intentional abuse dating to 2014, which resulted in puncture wounds, burns, bruising and injuries consistent with being shot with a BB or airsoft gun, police said.
The children’s accounts of their abuse led authorities to issue a warrant for Allen’s arrest. He appeared in court Monday, where he pleaded not guilty. A judge ordered him held in lieu of a little more than $5 million bail, said Sharon Henry, chief deputy district attorney for Solano County. As the investigation continues, Henry said there’s a “good chance” Rogers could face additional charges.
The alleged abuse was done with “sadistic purpose,” Henry said during a news conference. “Based upon what the children stated in their interviews, we believe torture occurred in this house.”
Fairfield police Lt. Greg Hurlbut said the children are still in the custody of other family members and “seem to be improving,” adding that he has not had a case in his decades as a police officer “where we charged someone with torture of their own children, if that tells you something.”
Rogers could not be reached for comment Monday. The Solano County Public Defender’s Office did not respond immediately to a request for information on legal representation for Allen.
On Monday, Rogers, who was released after posting $10,000 bail, according to the Associated Press, gave reporters a tour of her four-bedroom house. She said she and her husband both came from broken homes and wanted a large family, according to the AP. Rogers said she works the graveyard shift as an EKG technician at a heart monitoring company and that Allen is a tattoo artist. The children, authorities said, were home-schooled.
She said she first got pregnant when she was 16 and that she has 11 biological children. Allen, whom Rogers met about 10 years ago, is the father of eight of those children, according to ABC 7 News.
“Not only do I have 11 children and I’m 30 years old, but I also home-school all of my children, and people don’t agree with that lifestyle. And so I’ve had many people question my right to parent, and I just feel like this whole situation was exploded,” Rogers said, according to ABC News.
Rogers told reporters that the children chose to sleep in one bedroom because they were close, and that the other four bedrooms were used as a master bedroom, a playroom and a meditation room, according to the AP. She said she felt judged for having so many children and for choosing to home-school them. The only reason the house was messy when police arrived, she said, was because she had torn it apart looking for her 12-year-old son. He had been angry because Allen and Rogers had tried to take away his tablet computer, Rogers said, according to the AP.
Reporters noted that during the tour, however, the house was still filthy, with scuffed walls and animal feces in the bathroom, according to the AP.
Neighbors in the cul-de-sac said they did not know how many children were living in the house because they were mostly kept out of sight, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. One neighbor, Larry Magney, who lives across the street, said Allen and Rogers moved in about a year ago.
He said Rogers approached him at the end of March about her missing son as Magney was coming home from church. He told her it was unlikely her son was in his back yard because his dog would have barked, he said, according to the Chronicle.
“She was pretty concerned, and she was like, you know, running around the neighborhood,” Magney said, adding that he was “shocked” to learn that 10 children were living in the house, the Chronicle reported.
Another neighbor who lived next door, Tawnya Roth, said she had thought the couple had only three children, the Chronicle reported. She said that they had a baby when they first moved in and another baby late last year.
Rogers told reporters that she had called police in March after her son didn’t come home, and that she was surprised her husband was facing such serious allegations, according to the AP.
“My husband has a lot of tattoos. He looks like a scary individual, and that’s why people are so quick to judge him,” Rogers said. But my husband is an amazing person. I am an amazing mother.”