Tucson Girls Were Allegedly Held Captive in Soundproof Rooms

PHOTO: Tucson Police Department investigators and evidence technicians investigate the scene at a home where two people were arrested, Nov. 26, 2013.
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The house of horrors where three Tucson, Ariz., sisters were allegedly imprisoned included bedrooms that were rigged with alarms and virtually soundproof, police said today.

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor said the sisters -- ages 12, 13 and 17 -- were held captive by their mother and stepfather who used "technological and psychological" means to imprison them in their single-story suburban home.

Villaseñor described bedrooms that were wired with alarms and had the duct work sealed off, making them virtually soundproof. He said music was constantly played into the bedrooms to further muffle any sounds.

The police chief said the family moved to the home in August 2013 but said there were indications the girls may have also been held captive at their previous residence in Catalina, Ariz.

The oldest girl was kept isolated from her two youngest sisters during their captivity, Villaseñor said. During that time, the police chief said, the girl kept a journal that chronicles at least a year and a half of her life.

The journal was kept inside a satchel that police took as evidence, Villaseñor said. Also inside the bag was a photograph of singer Enrique Iglesias, which "the juvenile girl said was probably her most prized possession," the police chief said.

"Obviously Mr. Iglesias is an important aspect with her and helped her psychologically to deal with this situation," he said, adding that the photograph was returned to the teenager.

After possibly years of being apart, Villaseñor said police are making sure the sisters get to stay together.

"When the girls saw each other last night, to the detectives it appeared they had not seen each other for quite some time," he said, adding that they commented on each others' changes in appearance.

Youngest Sisters Broke Free Tuesday Morning

The two youngest sisters escaped from the home early Tuesday morning when police said the girls' stepfather, Fernando Richter, 34, attempted to break into their bedroom while brandishing a knife.

"They were kept in filthy living conditions separately and told patrol officers they had not seen each other in almost two years and were kept separate within the bedrooms within that house," Mike Gillooly, a captain with the Tucson Police Department, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The girls ran to a neighbor's house, Gillooly said, where an unidentified neighbor called 911. When officers entered the home, Gillooly said they found the oldest sister locked in a bedroom.

Richter and his wife, Sophia Richter, the girls' mother, were arrested and booked into Pima County Jail on child abuse and kidnapping charges, according to Sgt. Chris Widmer of the Tucson Police Department.

Widmer said Fernando Richter faces an additional charge of sexual abuse with a person under 15 years of age.

The Richters have not yet entered pleas and it was unknown if they had hired an attorney.

A judge set bail of $100,000 for the stepfather and $75,000 for their mother at a brief court appearance today.

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