Two and a half months ago, Arizona police responded to a robbery call at the home where three sisters were held captive by their mother and stepfather for two years.
Tucson police said there was no evidence that any children lived in the house. Despite reports that the girls were subjected to constant loud music and white noise, officers heard nothing.
“Even when our officers last week responded to the house, they went into the house and it wasn’t until they got right outside the bedroom door of the child’s room that they could hear the music,” said Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor.
Soundproofing appears to be one way the suspects eluded detection. Investigators found air vents and ducts covered and towels shoved underneath doors.
The girls, ages 12, 13 and 17, had been locked in rooms that were rigged with elaborate alarm systems and observed through a video surveillance system. The oldest daughter was kept in a separate room from the youngest girls.
Two of the girls escaped and called for help at a neighbor’s home last Tuesday after their stepfather allegedly attacked them with a knife.
Sophia and Fernando Richter were charged with kidnapping and child abuse. Fernando Richter is also charged with sexual abuse of a person under the age of 15.
The 17-year-old kept a journal with a handwritten calendar, Villaseñor said. Investigators are using it to piece together a timeline.
“On that calendar, there would be marks or notations of significant events that occurred,” Villaseñor told Arizona Republic. “That’s what we’re looking at, and that’s what gives us a time line as to how long this imprisonment occurred.”