After escaping from his bedroom window on Saturday, one of the four children adopted by Benito and Carol Gutierrez went to a nearby Family Dollar.
The unidentified child asked a clerk at the dollar store in Tucson, Arizona, whether he could use the phone, according to Tucson.com.
Noticing the boy appeared young and “disheveled,” the clerk instead called 911, according to a Pima County Sheriff’s Department press release obtained by ABC15.
Police say that boy led officers back to the house of his adoptive parents, who allegedly abused the children, ages 6 to 12, according to TucsonNewsNow.
Officers arrived to the house and allegedly found that each of the four children had been kept in their own bedrooms that were locked from the outside. The children were often left without basic necessities such as food, water and lights for up to 12 hours at a time, police told NBC News.
Police say the kids also were kept from using the bathroom at times. According to NBC, one child had a bucket to use instead of a toilet.
The children were immediately removed from the home, according to TucsonNewsNow. Benito and Carol Gutierrez were arrested on Tuesday and face three counts of child abuse each.
They are held in jail on a $25,000 bond.
In a similar case, Nicole Finn, an adoptive mother from Iowa, was found guilty of first-degree murder after her 16-year-old child, Natalie Finn, died Oct. 2016 from cardiac arrest brought on by starvation.
The teenager died at 85 pounds and wearing a soiled diaper, police say. Her mother allegedly kept the girl and her two siblings locked in an empty bedroom that had an alarm to alert her if they tried to escape.
And in California, a couple were arrested after police officers allegedly found their 13 children shackled to beds or kept in foul-smelling rooms, according to The Washington Post. All of the children — except the youngest, who is just 2 years old — were malnourished, police say.
The oldest child was 29 and weighed just 82 pounds when police discovered her.