SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – A children’s book author and her husband were arrested for abusing and imprisoning their three young adopted children.
The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said Jennifer and Joseph Wolfthal locked the three children, all under the age of 12, in their rooms for days and weeks at a time with no showers and little food, WFTV reported.
The couple adopted the children in 2014. Two of the children are now in foster care and the other child remains hospitalized.
On Jan. 1, Joseph Wolfthal brought one of the children to a hospital. The child was suffering from sepsis, staph infection, renal and liver failure and pneumonia in both lungs. The malnourished child also had visible bruising, open wounds and skin infections.
At the home, investigators said the children’s doors had locks installed on the outside. One of the children told investigators the couple would pour cold water over them nightly as they lay in bed. She also said she had not interacted with her siblings or other adults in years. She said she tried to keep track of the days and months by counting in her head.
Both were arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse, child neglect with great bodily harm and false imprisonment, WFTV reported.
Jennifer Wolfthal, the author of “A Real Friend,” used to teach elementary school children and has homeschooled her children with her husband, according to her author profile online.
“She enjoyed instilling a love for writing in her students and found picture books to be a beautiful medium to accomplish this goal,” the profile reads.
Her publisher has stopped selling the book.
“We believe that children are beautiful and deserve our utmost respect and care,” the publisher, Clavis, said in a statement. “That is why we publish books to enrich their lives and help them grow up learning to know themselves, how to interact with others in a good way and how the world works. We were made aware of horrific news regarding one-time, Clavis’ author Jennifer Wolfthal’s arrest and strongly condemn child abuse, abandonment and neglect, today and always. We will do what’s within our power to cease commercialization of her book further.”
The couple recently filed for divorce.
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