Two Siouxland children who ran away from home to escape alleged abuse told neighbors their grandmother and teachers had previously turned their parents in for child abuse, according to court documents.
Roger Munns, Department of Health and Human Services spokesman, said the Lawton family has what the department calls a "child welfare history." This means someone has reported suspicions of child abuse or neglect to DHHS investigators, he said.
However, Munns said he was not allowed to say how many times anyone called, what specifically the allegations were or if any allegation was found to be credible.
The couple was arrested earlier this month after their 12-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son told authorities they had been locked in an upstairs room for hours without food or water. According to court documents, the girl pried back a plywood window covering, slid to the ground on a lightning rod cable and then freed her brother from the four-seasons porch.
They went to a nearby house, where neighbors called police.
According to documents attached to a search warrant request filed after neighbors called police, rural Lawton resident Paula Ludwig told police in a written statement that an 8-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl arrived Aug. 8 at her 140th Street residence pulling a sled filled with their belongings.
She said the children said told her they were running away from home because they were being abused. The older girl asked to call her grandmother, Ludwig wrote, "who hasn't seen them for 1-2 years as she had tried to turn them in for abuse before."
The girl also said the children weren't going back to Lawton-Bronson Community School District this year because employees had turned the parents in for suspected child abuse, Ludwig wrote.
Paula Ludwig and Terrence Ludwig, who also provided a voluntary statement to police, wrote they observed bruises on the 12-year-old's lower leg and ear.
According to court documents, authorities executed a search warrant found the glass jar the children said they used to dispose of human waste. They also seized two belts and a wooden door at the 140th Street residence.