Couple Arrested for “Severe Abuse and Malnourishment” of Children


Norma Garcia and Jose Vargas (Photo Source: Huntsville/Madison Co. Metro Jail)

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Huntsville Police arrested the mother of three children and her boyfriend in what is being called a severe abuse case.

Norma Aracely Garcia, the children's mother, and Jose Casiano Vargas, her boyfriend, are each charged with three counts of child abuse.  Both are 23 years old. They are being held in the Huntsville/Madison County Metro Jail.

The family lives in an apartment complex in the 4000 block of Eunice Street, just near the intersection of Drake Avenue and Patton Road.  According to a police report, the children were severely abused and have signs of malnourishment.

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The discovery came about after police responded to an accident on Penny Street where the driver had left the scene.  Garcia and Vargas, the two people involved in the accident, had left, according to police.  Officers found them in their apartment on Eunice Street.

Inside the apartment, Huntsville Police and firefighters then found the three children locked in a room.  Police say they could tell the children had not been eating regularly.  Their names and ages are not being released, but all were age 6 or younger.

A source also tells WHNT News 19 the children were being held in a bedroom that was tied closed from the outside with a rope.  They had no food, no drink and no bathroom.

Both Garcia and Vargas were taken to Huntsville Hospital to be treated for their injuries from the accident.  They were arrested early Tuesday morning.

The children are now in the custody of the Alabama Department of Human Resources.  

People who live near the couple say they're shocked by the development.  Neighbor Sharmekia Young says, "In the type of neighborhood we live in you wouldn't really think it, because it's quiet all the time.  Now knowing that different activity and different things go on, it's shocking to me.  That makes me also want to be aware of who I let my child play with, because you may feel like if you can abuse your child, you can touch my child."

The National Child Advocacy Center hopes people will report cases like this in the future.  NCAC Development Director Catherine Hereford suggests, "Call law enforcement.  That's all you have to do.  You can call and make an anonymous reports, if you wish to remain anonymous.  But you're not going to ruin someone's life if it ends up being nothing, that will come out quickly."

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