“Malnourished” teenage twins who escaped from handcuffs at their Texas home prompted an Amber Alert for five other siblings who were deemed safe a day later by authorities in Louisiana, officials said Tuesday. The twins’ mother and her boyfriend were in custody.
The Harris County Constable Precinct 5 issued an Amber Alert early Tuesday for the five children, ages 7 to 14, according to statements on its Facebook page.
Jeff McShan, a spokesperson for the precinct, said the incident began when the 16-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, contacted a neighbor Monday and asked to call 911 because they had escaped from their home where they “had been handcuffed and held against their will by their mom.”
The siblings said they had only recently moved to the home and didn’t know their address, McShan said.
“It was obvious to us and the fire department that the children were in distress. They had marks on their wrists, pretty deep marks from the handcuffs. They were bruised and malnourished in our eyes,” he said.
NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston reported the twins were hospitalized and are in the custody of Child Protective Services.
McShan said it took authorities several hours Monday to determine the house from which the twins had fled. When they arrived there, the children’s mother, Zaikiya Duncan, 40, and her boyfriend, 27-year-old Jova Terrell, had apparently fled with Duncan’s five other children, McShan said.
“The Amber Alert has been lifted or will be lifted shortly. The children were found at a relative’s house and have been deemed safe by the Louisiana State Police. Their mother and mom’s boyfriend are in custody and will be brought back to Harris County,” according to the constable’s office.
The constable’s office said it is recommending charges of injury to a child, a first-degree felony, for Duncan and Terrell. It also said the children’s 18-year-old brother may have gone missing, too.
Duncan and Terrell were arrested after a traffic stop Tuesday afternoon, Louisiana State Police said in a statement Wednesday. They were wanted for being fugitives from Harris County, according to the agency. A juvenile was in the car with the couple, state police said. Five other children who were dropped off at a relative’s house in the Baton Rouge area were later identified and accounted for, according to police.
McShan said he expects the couple to return to Texas this week to face charges. It was not clear Wednesday if they had retained an attorney.
Duncan was listed on a charge of fugitive at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on Wednesday afternoon. Terrell was not listed as an inmate there.
Relatives for Duncan and Terrell could not be reached Wednesday.
Helen Kwong contributed.