The following is based on a true story:
The terrified children huddle against the second-story window. When they see strangers at the front door their minds silently repeat together: No talking, no talking, no…
The brothers and sisters, aged 2 to 13, have never been outside; they wonder what it would be like to go to school and have playmates.
“One time I heard mom tell dad that she ran away,” the older one swore. “Said we have to hide or her family will find her … send her away.”
The York, Pa., children have no birth certificates—as if they were never born.
Only that can’t be true ‘cause York County Children and Youth Services received a tip in 2003 and 2007. It went nowhere when caseworkers complained that the parents, Louann Bowers and Sinhue Johnson, wouldn’t cooperate.
Everything came to light in 2009 when someone claiming to be a family member called the services and said they had seen the children.
Caseworkers got a court order granting them permission to enter the ramshackle house.
The house is empty—they had fled.
The seven-member family had been living in one room on the second floor with no utilities—buckets on the floor to collect the rainwater pouring from the leaky roof.
Police tracked the family to a hotel outside the city. Dad wasn’t there; mom opened the door with her face covered in a dark veil. The two boys and three girls were hiding in the bathroom … dirty and unkempt.
The children have vision, education and health issues. Blessedly, they now live in foster homes, go to school and receive the care they need.
Charlton Shaw, a neighbor, is stunned: “I said, holy heck, how did they do that? You never heard a sound. No kids crying, no kids coming or going.” He has lived nearby for ten years and declares: “How do you mess up the kids’ futures like that?”
May Your Glass Always Be Half Full
Maxi’s coming novel
Over the Edge