Girl, 8, chained to stop her from eating

US - Three young children were found nearly starved to death at the squalid home of two women in the US, said police.

One of the children was chained to the floor to prevent her from getting food, authorities said.

All three - the girl and two boys - were taken into protective custody. The girl was hospitalised, Monterey County Sheriff Scott Miller said last Friday.

Authorities discovered them in their northern Californian home on March 14 after two of the children missed unspecified appointments, according to several published reports.

"It was a particularly heinous case," Sheriff Miller told the Monterey Herald. The children had "hardly eaten for months."

The boys are three and five years old, and the girl is eight, authorities said. They all exhibited bruises and signs of other physical as well as emotional abuse, reported Reuters.

Extreme Abuse

The girl, who appeared to have suffered the most extreme abuse, was chained to the floor to prevent her from getting any food, they said.

"It seems that the little girl was the major target of this abuse," Sheriff Miller said, adding that she looked "like a concentration camp victim."

The girl was in the hospital for about five days, he said, and seemed "traumatised".

There was evidence that she may have been put in the closet and was sometimes shackled at the ankle and at other times by a collar around her neck, he added.

Eraca Dwan Craig, 31, and Christian Jessica Deana, 44, were both arrested at the scene on suspicion of felony child cruelty, false imprisonment and other charges.

The women, who are domestic partners, do not appear to have criminal records in the county. They were both arraigned last Tuesday and are scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Friday.

Authorities said the women seemed to be making preparations to leave before they were arrested.

Investigators found little food inside the house, which was cluttered and dirty, according to reports.

The girl and the older boy were adopted children, and the younger boy is the biological son of one of the women, Sheriff Miller said.

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