A New Mexico mother of 15 is accused of horrific abuse, including forcing her children to watch as she boiled a litter of puppies alive, beating her pregnant daughter until she miscarried and keeping another daughter in a “fat chain” for three years.
Martha Crouch, 53, is facing charges of child abuse and extreme cruelty of animals after investigators uncovered the disturbing allegations of abuse that the children claim were inflicted on them for years as the family moved from state to state any time child welfare authorities became involved.
The children’s father, Timothy Crouch, 57, is also facing a charge of obstruction of investigation of child abuse or neglect, according to The Farmington Daily Times.
The allegations against the couple detail a life of abuse and torture for the couple’s 15 children: eight sons and seven daughters.
The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office began the investigation after arresting one of the couple’s adult children for assault with a deadly weapon—and soon learned of the shocking claims of abuse made by the family’s children.
One teen daughter told authorities that after their dog had a litter of puppies, Martha Crouch “took the puppies and put them into a giant pot and boiled them, making all the kids watch,” according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The incident occurred in October 2018 after Martha allegedly told her daughter she was planning to fix something special for her birthday, the local paper reports.
The same day, her daughter said one of the family’s other dogs named Pip was shot and buried in the backyard.
The 17-year-old also claimed that her mother once fed a kitten poison and beat her with a spatula after she had questioned why the children weren’t allowed to go to school. The abuse became so bad that two of her older siblings took her to Arizona to keep her safe.
One of the couple’s other daughters told authorities that while the family was living in Alaska she was kept in a “fat chain” for three years after her mother believed she was too heavy.
One of the couple’s sons told investigators that he had been “beaten, shot, stabbed and run over by his parents,” and still had BBs inside his arm as evidence of the abuse.
Another daughter reported that she had been beaten so severely she miscarried after getting pregnant at the age of 14.
As the investigation into the children’s claims continues, the New Mexico Children, Youth and Family Department has received hundreds of pages of reports from social service agencies across multiple states that at one time investigated the family, including Alaska, Kansas, Missouri and Montana.
The family reportedly fled the state any time child welfare authorities became concerned.
“It’s an ongoing investigation that is going to take us some time,” Jayme Harcrow, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, told The Daily Times.
The investigation into the family began shortly after the May 30 arrest of one of the couple’s adult children who is also named Timothy Crouch, 31.
He reportedly got into an argument with three of his brothers about food and pointed a gun at his siblings.
His parents were taken into custody nearly a month later on June 24 at their home.
Four of the couple’s younger children were taken into custody by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Family Department the following day.
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