Parents charged in child abuse case -, GA News Weather & Sports

Parents charged in child abuse case

Norma Garcia and Jose Cassiano Vargas are each charged with three counts of willful abuse of a child. Norma Garcia and Jose Cassiano Vargas are each charged with three counts of willful abuse of a child.

Three juveniles Huntsville Police described as "severely abused and showing signs of malnourishment" were taken into the custody of the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

Huntsville Police found the abused children at an apartment in the 4000 block of Eunice Street after responding to a leaving the scene of an accident call.

Officers said the three children, two boys and a girl all under 6 years old, were locked in a bedroom and looked malnourished.

The parents, 23-year-old Jose Cassiano Vargas and 23-year-old Norma Garcia, were arrested without incident and charged with three counts of child abuse.

Vargas and Garcia were taken to Huntsville Hospital to be treated for their injuries from the vehicle accident. They were arrested after they were released from the hospital.

Further charges could be pending.

A neighbor who didn't want to be identified said she hadn't seen the kids in days, but the last time she had, something didn't seem right.

"They looked kind of malnutritioned, yeah," said the neighbor.

"I know those kids. They were so sweet. They were so obedient," said neighbor, Porchell Young.

Young said it was normal for the three kids to be inside.

"When he comes home, they would have to be stuck in the house all day long," said Young.

She hadn't seen the children in awhile and just yesterday tried to get her kids to play with them but had no idea this was happening.

"I didn't know anything about that because I haven't been over here until yesterday but she would not let me go in the house, she was just blocking the door she would not let me go in," Young said.

No one called police over the child abuse.

"I thought about it at one time, but the neighborhood that we live here is kind of rough, so you try not to get to involved with things," said an anonymous neighbor.

Neighbors said they knew something wasn't right about the family.

The National Child Advocacy Center said neighbors overlooked the signs.

"Watch that they are not experiencing weight loss or weight gain. Watch that they are not over-sexualizing their behaviors. Watch that they are not becoming more withdrawn," said Catherine Hereford with the Advocacy Center. "Sometimes their behavior will regress: They'll start bed wetting or things of that nature, anything that you see a change from what they were like before as to how they are now could show you that something is really going on at home."

Hereford said to make the call to police or DHR to check things out no matter what. You never know what could be going on, so you have to be vigilant.

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