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Pa. parents accused of hiding 5 children away for years

Five siblings were reportedly living in squalor and secrecy in this house in York, Pa. Five siblings were reportedly living in squalor and secrecy in this house in York, Pa. (Bill Kalina/ York Dispatch/ AP)
Associated Press / November 29, 2010

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YORK, Pa. — The parents of five children ranging in age from 2 to 13 have been charged with child endangerment after allegedly keeping them hidden from the world in a squalid house with no heat, electricity, or running water.

The children lived outside society, had no birth certificates, no schooling, no immunizations or evidence of medical care — nothing whatsoever to prove their existence, officials said.

Police in this south-central Pennsylvania city are still piecing together how the parents 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.

Louann Bowers, 33, and Sinhue Johnson, 45, were charged with five felony counts of child endangerment. They are scheduled to be in court Friday, though Bowers’s lawyer said she will waive her right to an arraignment. Both are being held in the York County Prison.

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.

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