YORK, Pa. (AP) — They lived outside society, hidden from the world in a squalid row house with no heat, electricity or running water. They had no birth certificates, no schooling, no immunizations or evidence of
medical care — nothing whatsoever to prove their existence.
Police in this south-central Pennsylvania city are still piecing together how
the parents of five children — ranging in age from 2 to 13 — managed to
conceal them for so many years. And why.
“I don’t know what would possess them at all,” said detective Dana Ward Jr., who tracked down
the children after a child welfare agency received an anonymous tip
about the clandestine family.
Ward charged Louann Bowers, 33, and Sinhue Johnson, 45, with five felony counts of child endangerment. They
are scheduled to be in court Friday, though Bowers’ lawyer said she
will waive her right to an arraignment. Both are locked up in York
Bowers ran away from “a very chaotic household” when she was 16 and “didn’t want to be found,” attorney Ronald Gross said.
“I think, unfortunately, Mom’s desire to not be found by her family
impacted the children’s growth,” he said. “She realizes now, ‘I should
have done it differently.”’
Johnson’s public defender did not return a phone message seeking comment on the case, which was first
reported by The York Dispatch and York Daily Record.
Years of isolation have taken their toll on the siblings. Now living in foster
homes, “some of the children suffer health and vision issues,” Ward
wrote in an affidavit. “None of the children are at their expected
education levels, and there are possible mental health issues.”
Since their discovery, the children have been vaccinated and the older ones have been enrolled in school.
York County Children and Youth Services became aware of the family through
anonymous tips in 2003 and again in 2007, but police said Johnson
refused to cooperate with caseworkers