A case of child abuse was uncovered in Sarasota after police say the suspect’s own sister pleaded to take the children to a hospital.
The case’s lead detective said the severity of the abuse took her breath away.
The parents of 4-year-old twins and a 6-year-old boy are accused of not only starving the children but beating the two with a belt.
"That is horrible! That is horrible!" said Whitney Douglas, who lived next to the couple.
Kimberly Haygood, 27, and Anthony Jones, 30, were her neighbors for years.
"I am happy they got caught. They are babies and can't feed for themselves. They need someone to take care of them," Douglas said.
According to a deputy’s report, the twins looked like skeletons. One was only 22 pounds, the weight of an 11-month-old baby. A 6-year-old boy was also starved.
"Everyone is born with the ability to chew. If you don't use that ability , you cannot develop it and unfortunately detectives believe that these children have never been able to chew food in their lives because they have never been fed food," said Genevieve Judge, Sarasota sheriff's spokeswoman.
Detectives said the mother changed her story numerous times, then told them her children survived on Pediasure.
The alleged abuse did not stop there. Two kids also had marks, which doctors told law enforcement was from a belt beating.
Douglas is also heartbroken. She is also a mother and suspected something because she never saw the kids.
But she admits to us she did nothing. Never again.
"It's all of our faults that we did not say anything. If we see something, we should call. Even if it is me, someone should call. I don't know why I didn't. Just stupid, and not wanting to get into anyone's business," Douglas said.
Haygood's own sister led detectives to the kids. She apparently pleaded with her sister to take her kids to the hospital because they were so thin.
That's when doctors called police.
"I know you had food. I saw you go to the grocery store. I seen her bringing bags and bags just not feeding then babies,” Douglas said. “What a shame."
Police said the couple could face more charges.
All the children have been removed from the couple’s home. The couple remained in jail Monday night.