The 10 children who were removed from a home in Fairfield, Calif., were shot with crossbows, subjected to “waterboarding,” and scalded with hot water, according to prosecutors.
The Solano County District Attorney’s office leveled the additional allegations of abuse in a motion to increase the bail of Ina Rogers, the children’s 31-year-old mother, who is charged with nine counts of felony child abuse. She did not enter a plea Wednesday and was held in lieu of $495,000 bail by Judge William J. Pendergast in Solano County Superior Court. It is unclear whether Rogers was immediately put in custody.
Investigators say the children were tortured, burned, beaten and shot with a pellet gun while living amid squalor and abuse — all of which allegedly occurred in a bright, four-bedroom house that looks from the outside as well-kept as the rest of the houses on the Northern California cul-de-sac. Some neighbors of Ina Rogers and Jonathan Allen said they had no idea the couple had so many children.
The home was littered with urine, human and animal feces, garbage and rotten food, police said, and heaps of debris blocked off parts of the home. Still, Rogers, while she was out on bail for her initial charges of child neglect earlier this week, gave reporters an open-house tour of what she insisted was a loving if unconventional home.
“My husband is an amazing person,” she said. “I am an amazing mother.”
AP reported the house still looked squalid behind the cream-colored, hedge-lined exterior: animal droppings littered the bathroom, and scuff marks still covered some walls.
Allen, the 29-year-old father of eight of the children, pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of felony torture and abuse. He was ordered held in lieu of about $5 million bail.
Police began investigating the family after their 12-year-old boy was reported missing at the end of March. Rogers later told reporters that the boy had left home angry because she had taken his computer tablet away. The boy was eventually found sleeping under a bush in a neighbor’s yard, police said.
What officers saw when they returned him to his home on March 31 caused authorities to seize the children and launch a criminal investigation. Pictures obtained by ABC affiliate KGO show furniture, trash and toys scattered at every angle, as if a storm had torn through the home. A bathroom was covered from wall-to-wall in animal droppings.
Rogers’ explanation of the unsanitary conditions was that she had torn the house apart looking for the 12-year-old, the AP reported. When she was later asked why all 10 children slept in a single room while the other bedrooms were used as the parents’ quarters, a “meditation room” and a playroom, Rogers replied that the children liked it that way.
Rogers was arrested March 31, the same night her son was returned to her, and booked into Solano County Jail for alleged child neglect. She was released on bail in early April. All her children were then taken into protective custody by Solano County Child Welfare Services and placed in the care of other family members, with whom they remain.
In the six weeks since that arrest, police said, authorities have interviewed the eight older children and learned more disturbing details about their lives, which led to authorities to arrest Allen and to bring more charges against Rogers.
The children had been home-schooled and were seen outside so rarely that some neighbors were shocked to learn more than a few lived at the house. Some of the children, police said, described incidents of intentional abuse dating to 2014 — puncture wounds, burns, bruising and injuries consistent with being shot with an airsoft or BB gun.
Prosecutors said in the motion to increase Rogers’s bail Wednesday that the children were also getting punched, strangled and bitten, shot with crossbows, were subjected to “waterboarding” and having scalding hot water poured on them.
In the motion, Deputy District Attorney Veronica Juarez wrote that the children suffered scars and injuries such as broken arms. She wrote that Rogers knew about the abuse her children endured but failed to protect them and assisted in the abuse herself. Juarez also wrote that Rogers dissuaded the children from reporting their injuries to doctors to protect Allen.
Records obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle show Allen’s abuse allegations date back to late 2011. That year, Ina Rogers called police to tell them she’d spent the night away from home after Allen threatened to rip her head off, police said. Allen had reportedly threatened to kill her five children, which included two from a previous relationship, the Chronicle reported.
Rogers told police she had for years been a victim of domestic violence, revealing a black eye from under her sunglasses and a fading bruise on her calf, the Chronicle reported. She also alleged that Allen put a .22-caliber gun into her mouth and threatened to shoot her, forcing her to beg for her life.
Allen pleaded no contest to a charge of corporal injury as part of a deal with prosecutors, and was sentenced to 180 days and three years of probation. He was released in January 2015, according to the Chronicle.
Rogers on Monday — while still out on bail — held a sort of news conference at her home.
“My kids get bumped and bruised and scratched because they’re kids, but that’s it,” she told reporters in front of her house, according to the Associated Press. “There’s no broken bones, there is no major scars, nothing.”
She said she felt unfairly judged for her lifestyle. She first got pregnant when she was 16, she said, and had been with Allen for the last 10 years, and they both wanted a large family.
They both worked, she said — she on the graveyard shift as an EKG technician, and Allen as a tattoo artist.
“My husband has a lot of tattoos. He looks like a scary individual, and that’s why people are so quick to judge him,” Rogers told reporters.