The pictures of the Halifax Township, Pennsylvania home wouldn’t suggest anything was amiss. They showed folders containing schoolwork, a decorated Christmas tree and pictures of the kids, Pennlive reported.
But beyond the toys and decorations, investigators found peeled walls in a small, unheated room where the three children were locked at night, the publication said. Authorities found them underweight for their ages — 4, 5, and 6 — malnourished and filthy in December 2016, authorities said. Two of the children were close to dying of malnutrition, the Associated Press reported.
The 6-year-old boy and two girls told police that they had been imprisoned there for trying to steal food. Their guardians, Joshua and Brandi Weyant, hadn’t been feeding them, prosecutors said, according to Pennlive. Prosecutors said the paint was peeled from the walls for as high as the kids could reach, and the children were eating it "to try to survive.”
"(The kids) looked like they had just walked out of a concentration camp” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Gettle, FOX 43 reported.
The woman who owns the home the Weyants were renting, Sheila Herb, told CBS 21 News that she had no idea what had been going on at the home.
She told the news station she did periodically check on the house when the Weyants first took over the lease, but during those visits the house and the children seemed fine.
The Weyants raised the children, but were not their biological parents, the AP reported.
Police say that the couple intentionally starved the children because “they did not want them anymore,” CBS 21 News reported.
Joshua, 34, and Brandi, 39, both pleaded guilty last week to charges of aggravated assault, false imprisonment and other offenses, the AP said. They face a minimum of 10 years in prison when they are sentenced in May.
Gettle told FOX 43 last February that the children have improved since they were removed from the home.
“They are thriving,” she said. “All three are out of the hospital. All three are out of the hospital and have doubled their weight.”
The children are now in foster care, according to prosecutors.