POSTED: Monday, March 7, 2011 - 6:22pm
UPDATED: Monday, March 7, 2011 - 6:32pm
FLORIDA — (AP) -- A 10-year-old Florida girl and her twin brother sometimes spent days on end locked in a bathroom, their hands and feet bound, enduring their parents' abuse before the girl's father punched and beat her to death as she cried and screamed, police said Monday.
Authorities charged the girl's parents with her death, the culmination of what they called months of abuse and torture. Police said Jorge Barahona ended that on Feb. 11 when he grabbed Nubia from the bathroom and beat her to death. His wife, Carmen, is accused of encouraging her husband's abuse and abusing the children herself, according to the arrest warrant.
Both have been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and child neglect in the girl's death. Her body was found on Valentine's Day, stuffed in plastic bags in the back of her father's truck along a busy Interstate.
"Two people engaged in this subhuman abuse that culminated in the death of their own child," Miami-Dade Police director James Loftus said. "It's one of the saddest commentaries on the human condition I've ever seen."
A child protective investigator visited the home on Feb. 10, one day before Nubia's death, after the state received a call to its abuse hotline. But Carmen Barahona said that the couple had separated and that the twins were with her husband. She has since admitted lying, police said.
The surviving twin, Victor, was found in the front of the truck, badly burned from a toxic chemical. Police called the boy, who is now living in a specialized foster home, a hero and key witness.
Victor told authorities he and his sister were locked in the bathroom when Jorge Barahona grabbed Nubia on Feb. 11. He said he heard the screams before her death. He didn't see his sister again after that, according to the warrant.
Jorge Barahona has pleaded not guilty to attempted first-degree murder in Victor's case. A message left for his attorney was not immediately returned Monday.
Carmen Barahona's attorney declined comment Monday.
Meanwhile a three-person panel is investigating how child welfare officials missed glaring warnings in the case, including several abuse allegations in the years before Nubia's death.
School officials warned Nubia was afraid of her mother and was hoarding food at school. One teacher said Nubia confessed that Carmen hit her, but each abuse allegation was deemed "unfounded" by child welfare officials.
Two days before the twins were found in their father's truck, a worried man called the state's abuse hotline saying something was wrong.
"My sister had questioned (Jorge) about the little girl and he doesn't come with a straight answer which is worrying me so much that something might have happened to that little girl," the unidentified caller said, according to a transcript of the call.
Jessica Wilson/ KETKnbc.com