Investigators are digging up a rural Missouri property looking for notes they say six children buried in glass jars documenting years of nightmarish sexual abuse allegedly at the hands of their grandfather, father and three uncles.
The children reportedly wrote the notes between 1988 and 1995 because they claim they were told doing so would make their memories go away, police said.
Police who are excavating the 55 acre property said they are also looking for bodies, although they would not say whether they were looking for bodies of adults or children.
The five men, three of whom were lay ministers with the Community of Christ church, have been arrested and appeared in court today to hear the charges against them, including forcible sodomy, rape with a child younger than 12 and use of a child in a sexual performance. They were shackled at their wrists, waists and ankles.
The men did not enter pleas and did not appear to have legal representation
Burrell Edward Mohler Sr., 77, the grandfather of the five girls and one boy - now all adults - faces the worst of the charges that include forcible rape of a child under the age of 12, two counts of felony rape and two counts of use of a child in a sexual performance.
His son and the father of the five children, Burrell Edward Mohler Jr., 53, was charged with forcible rape of a child under the age of 14 and two counts of use of a child in a sexual performance.
Also charged with sexual abuse were the children's three uncles -- David Mohler, 52, Jared Mohler, 48, and Roland Mohler, 47.
"Obviously, it's disturbing," Missouri State Highway Patrol Corporal Bill Lowe told ABCNews.com today. "But anytime you are dealing with children, it is that way with us."
Lowe said a 26-year-old woman came to the Lafayette County Sheriff's Department in August claiming that she had been raped and was forced into an abortion before her 12th birthday.
According to a probable cause statement filed with the Lafayette County prosecutor's office, the woman also told investigators that her grandfather, father and two uncles forced a series of sexual abuses on the children ranging from sodomy to bestiality.
The documents also describe fake marriages between the girls and their uncles in which the alleged victim "and her sisters would pick flowers to adorn their hair. They also wore special dresses."
The "weddings" were consumated in a trailer parked in the yard or the chicken coop, according to the probable cause filing.
"She remembers her grandfather putting a blanket over the glass door and saying, 'You all have fun,'" the document states.
Since the woman first came to police in August, all six children have approached authorities and alleged abuse by all five men, according to the probable cause statements. The children, Lowe said, are now scattered across the United States.
Lowe said jars of notes could potentilly be damning pieces of evidence against the men if authorities can find them.
"The victims at the time were told if they write down these events that occured and put them in a glass jars and bury them, those bad memories would go away," Lowe said. Investigators are not sure where on the property the jars may be buried.
In addition, he said, "We've been given information that there could possibly be a body or bodies located on the property."