CYPRESS, Texas (AP) — A woman accused of starving and abusing her twin teenagers in Texas had been arrested a decade earlier in Louisiana on a child abuse charge, according to court records.
Zaikiya Duncan, 40, remained jailed Friday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after two of her children fled their Houston-area home and sought help from neighbors this week.
The twins, barefoot and holding handcuffs, were seen on doorbell video as they sought help in a Cypress neighborhood, just outside Houston. The video, obtained by Houston TV station KHOU, showed the teens walking door to door around 5:30 am Tuesday as they sought help.
The boy was shirtless, and the girl was wearing only a plastic grocery bag around her neck as a shirt, according to an affidavit.
The woman who let them inside told Houston TV station KTRK that the teens told her: “We are not here to hurt you.”
“She was shaking with her handcuffs,” the woman, who was not named in the news story, said of the girl. “She was like, ‘We are looking for help. We just need help. We just broke out of our handcuffs. Our mom had us handcuffed in the laundry room.’”
Duncan was arrested hours later in Louisiana after police issued a missing children alert for five other children. All seven children, including the twins, are now in Child Protective Service custody, authorities said.
In 2012, Duncan was arrested in Baton Rouge on a charge of cruelty to juveniles after one of her children, then 5, was taken to a school clinic with injuries, including burns consistent with being submerged in hot water, court records said. It wasn’t immediately known whether that child was one of the twins.
In Texas, the 15-year-old twins were severely malnourished and told police that abuse had been occurring for months, the affidavit said. They told police that Duncan handcuffed them, forced them to drink bleach and other household cleaners, and sprayed oven cleaner in their mouths “if they talked too much,” the affidavit said.
The twins also told authorities that they were forced to eat and drink feces and urine, according to the affidavit.
The neighbor, an intensive care unit nurse, said she photographed the teens’ injuries and called police.
The girl “was complaining that she couldn’t even close her hand because her hand just felt so tight and swollen from her trying to tug and pull off the handcuffs,” the woman said.
Duncan awaits extradition on charges of aggravated assault. Her live-in boyfriend, 27-year-old Jova Terrell, also faces an assault charge. It wasn’t known whether either had an attorney, and they are expected to be extradited to Texas within 30 days, KTRK reported.
This story has been updated to correct the member attribution about the planned extradition to KTRK.
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