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Thursday 26 April 2018

Parents of 'hidden children' charged

Michael Rubinkam in York, Pennsylvania

They lived outside society, hidden from the world in a squalid house with no heat, electricity or running water. They had no birth certificates, no schooling, no immunisations or evidence of medical care -- nothing whatsoever to prove their existence.

Police in the Pennsylvanian city of York are still piecing together how the parents of five children -- ranging in age from two to 13 -- managed to conceal them for so many years. And they have no idea why.

"I don't know what would possess them," said Detective Dana Ward Jr, who tracked down the children after a child welfare agency received an anonymous tip.

Louann Bowers (33) and Sinhue Johnson (45) were charged with five felony counts of child endangerment. They are scheduled to appear in court on Friday.

Bowers ran away from "a very chaotic household" when she was 16 and "didn't want to be found", attorney Ronald Gross said. "I think, unfortunately, mom's desire not to be found by her family impacted the children's growth."

Years of isolation have taken their toll on the siblings. Now living in foster homes, "some of the children suffer health and vision issues", wrote Mr Ward in an affidavit.

"None are at their expected education levels, and there are possible mental health issues."

Since their discovery, the children have been vaccinated and the older ones enrolled in school.

Irish Independent

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