State takes custody of kids allegedly found locked in closet

RICHMOND, TX (KTRK) -- Seven children allegedly found locked inside the same room -- dirty, malnourished and sometimes beaten-- are now in the custody of the state.

A judge granted the mediated settlement agreement that maintains CPS have temporary custody of the kids.

All seven children are still in the hospital.

Investigators in Fort Bend County say they were removed from a home in Richmond, and charged two people who were supposed to care for them.

People who lived on the first floor of this house tell us the children weren't allowed to come downstairs. They stayed in a room on that second floor with boarded up windows.

When deputies found the seven children, they were very thin. All of them are between 14 and 16 years old with special needs. But investigators say they never saw a doctor, didn't go to school, and didn't even go outside. They also tell us the children were sometimes hit with a paddle.

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Seven children found living in horrible conditions

Here's how deputies found the place: Julie Johnson with the Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office, said, "Doorknobs on the main door and closet door had been removed and replaced with deadbolt locks opened only by a key...the children were left in there, living altogether. The carpet was being pulled up, the metal tacks were exposed, clutter everywhere, soiled laundry."

Paula Sinclair, 54, and Allen "Coach" Richardson, 78, were arrested and charged with kidnapping an injury to a child. Sinclair was not in court today. Her next court date is January 18.

The state paid Sinclair up to $540 a month for each child, based on their needs. At this time, it's unclear the total amount she received a month for the children.

Authorities say Sinclair adopted the children back in 2003 and 2004.

The teens are being watched and their diets are being monitored. After they're released, they will be with Child Protective Services, and the organization says it will try to keep all of them together.
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