Tucson couple indicted in child imprisonment case

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Fernando Richter and Sophia Richter By Mike Gertzman Fernando Richter and Sophia Richter By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX (AP) -- A man and woman from Arizona were indicted on charges that they imprisoned the woman's three daughters inside their Tucson home.

The indictment publicly released Tuesday charges 34-year-old Fernando Richter and 32-year-old Sophia Richter with kidnapping and child abuse for allegedly keeping the three girls locked in their rooms at the Tucson home during a three-month period ending on Nov. 26, when police discovered their captivity.

Authorities are investigating whether the girls - ages 17, 13 and 12 - were imprisoned earlier in a home in the Pinal County community of Catalina, about 20 miles north of Tucson, where the family had lived from March 2011 to August 2013.

The Pima County Attorney's Office said in a statement that the majority of the crimes committed in the case happened in Pinal County. Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles said his office is reviewing the case's police reports for possible prosecution.

It's not clear whether Fernando and Sophia Richter have lawyers. Both have remained in a Pima County jail since their arrest two weeks ago.

Fernando Richter, the girls' stepfather, is also charged with aggravated assault on two of the girls and aggravated assault on a police officer who came to the home after police were alerted.

Investigators said the two younger girls escaped through the window of the bedroom they shared and alerted a neighbor after their stepfather tried to break down the door to their room as he brandished a knife.

Police later discovered the 17-year-old was being held separately from her sisters in another room. The three girls were malnourished and dirty and told officers they hadn't taken a bath in up to six months.

While in jail since his arrest, Fernando Richter was booked on suspicion of aggravated assault on a Pima County jail officer who had asked him on Sunday night to take down wet paper that Richter had posted on a window of his cell door, said Pima County Sheriff's spokesman Tracy Suitt.

Suitt said Richter broke jail rules by posting the wet paper, which prevented officers from seeing inside his cell, and refused an order from the jail officer in question to remove the paper. Richter then grabbed the officer, so other officers joined in to take control of and handcuff Richter. No one was injured, Suitt said.

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