According to court records: Sammantha Allen is Ame's aunt. Stoltzmann is Ame's legal guardian and Sammantha's mother. Deal is Stoltzmann's mother.
Also living at the house was David Deal, 51, who told The Republic that he is Ame's father. He declined to comment further.
Crump said Ame apparently was locked in the footlocker as punishment for taking a frozen treat from the refrigerator. Court records say that John Allen told investigators that he locked Ame in the box while his wife stood by. Then, records say, the Allens fell asleep.
Before Ame was locked in, however, police believe she was forced to spend two hours doing backbends and was forced by John to maintain the torturous position, court records say. She also was forced to run in the yard despite the summer heat, records say. The temperature that day exceeded 103 degrees.
Then, sweating profusely and badly overheated, Ame was forcibly jammed into the footlocker, court records say.
"And then, he put a padlock on it
," Crump said, his voice taut with anger during a Thursday briefing.
The footlocker had been used on several previous occasions to punish Ame for various offenses, including wetting the bed
, according to accounts given to police by others who had lived at the home, court records say.
"When they'd put her in the footlocker, they would pick it up and spin it around and then roll it across the floor
," Crump said.
According to court documents, one backyard resident, Travis Naylor, said that about six months ago, he had returned home and heard screaming from inside the footlocker.
"He said Cynthia Stoltzmann was sitting on the box and playing on a laptop computer,"
court records say.
On one occasion, adults who lived at the house said, as punishment for failing to pick up a dog's droppings, the feces were rubbed onto Ame's face and she was forced to eat them, court records say.
Other times, "Ame would be beaten with a board that the adults called 'Butt Buster,' "
He said that because of Ame's bed wetting, she was forced to sleep in a shower with no pillow or blanket
"because they didn't want her to wet it."
Several neighbors said they considered the family unusual and heard adults yelling expletives at the children but did not see signs of physical violence.
They said children of all ages, toddlers to teens, would play outside until late into the night, sometimes until 2 a.m.
Several neighbors said they considered calling police but did not want to break the family apart.
Children often had little or no clothes on, sometimes no diapers or shoes,
Joe Perez, who lives around the corner, said he saw a girl he presumed was Ame being punished by being told to walk up and down the street barefooted and in the heat. "I was about to go over there myself (and say to the guardians), 'Why don't you take off your shoes and walk 18 times on the street?' " Perez said.
Louis Moreno, who lives across the street, said he saw babies in high chairs eating outside late at night
"The family was fishy," Moreno said.
The other children in the house have been placed with state Child Protective Services, and an investigation is ongoing.
Police said the adults and children had lived at the south Phoenix address for a year and had come from Utah. Local government records show some members of the family lived in Ogden, Utah, from 2006 until 2010. They also lived previously in Midland, Texas, and Racine, Wis.
"There is a court record of child abuse from Utah
, which we have seen," Crump said, though he did not have details. Arizona court records indicate Ame was listed as an "abused, neglected child" in Utah
. Abuse records, however, are rarely made public, and officials in both states declined to comment on the case.
Arizona officials, however, noted that Arizona CPS had no prior contact with the family or with Ame. Many of their referrals come from schools. But Ame's family home-schooled its children, court records say.
Michael Deal, Ame's 23-year-old cousin living in Midland, said he never saw any physical abuse when the family lived in Texas and helped raise him. When he was disciplined, he said, he was scolded and told to stand in a corner, as were other children in the family.
"They were all pretty nice to the kids," he said.
Michael said he heard about the events concerning his cousin from his mother, David Deal's sister-in-law.
Among all the children in the house, Ame was most often the one picked on by adults
, police and court records say.
One witness told police that Ame was "the only child punished in the home," court records say.
The reason Ame was often in trouble: She so often was hungry.
Ame, who was 4 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 59 pounds, was most often in trouble for taking food from the refrigerator, court records say.