On Nov. 26, 2013, at 4:02 a.m., officers from Operations Division West responded to a residence in the 2800 block of North Estrella Avenue regarding a domestic violence fight involving a knife. Upon arrival, officers contacted two juvenile females, ages 12 and 13, who had ran to the neighbor’s house alleging that their step-father had attempted to break into their bedroom while brandishing a knife. During the course of the investigation, it was alleged by the girls that they had been imprisoned in their bedrooms for at least the last several months and possibly up to two years. It was also discovered that there was a 17-year old sister who was still in the house in a different bedroom. Officers made entry into the home and located a third juvenile locked in a bedroom. All three juveniles were extremely dirty and stated they had not bathed in 4 to 6 months. They were kept in filthy living conditions and alleged only being fed once a day. The children were removed from the home and the parents were taken into custody and later arrested. At this time the investigation is ongoing and further information will be released as it becomes available.
On Jan. 31, Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles announced his filing of 24 charges against Fernando Richter, 34 of Tucson, and his wife, Sophia Richter, 32.
The Pinal County Grand Jury returned True Bills on both individuals on Wednesday, January 15. The arraignment for Fernando and Sophia Richter was held Friday morning at Pinal County Superior Court and both Fernando and Sophia Richter are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Charges filed by the Pinal County Attorney's Office are as follows:
Fernando Richter, 34 of Tucson, indicted on 15 counts Counts 1-3: Child abuse, alleging unreasonable confinement; class 4 felonies Counts 4-6: Child abuse, alleging emotional damage; class 4 felonies Counts 7-9: Kidnapping, First Degree and Dangerous Crime Against Children on two of the counts; class 4 felonies Count 10: Aggravated Assault; class 5 felony Count 11: First Degree Sexual Abuse; DCAC; class 3 felony Count 12: First Degree Child Molestation; DCAC; class 2 felony Count 13: Child Abuse; alleging victim was hit causing a bloody nose; class 4 felony Count 14: Child Abuse; alleging victim was hit with a metal spoon; class 4 felony Count 15: Child Abuse; alleging victim was hit with a stick; class 4 felony
Sophia Richter, 32 of Tucson, indicted on 9 counts
(Counts 1-9 are identical to counts 1-9 in the indictment filed against Fernando Richter.) Counts 1-3: Child abuse, alleging unreasonable confinement; class 4 felonies Counts 4-6: Child abuse, alleging emotional damage; class 4 felonies Counts 7-9: Kidnapping, First Degree and Dangerous Crime Against Children on two of the counts; class 4 felonies
If Fernando Richter were to be convicted at trial as charged by the Pinal County Attorney's Office, the minimum prison sentence he faces would be 33 years in AZ Department of Corrections and the maximum sentence would be 128.25 years. If Sophia Richter were convicted at trial as charged by the Pinal County Attorney's Office, she would face a minimum prison sentence of 23 years in DOC and a maximum of 83 years.
Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles issued the following statement:
"Our children depend on us, as parents, to protect them and provide for them in a safe environment. No child should live in fear and our youth represent one of our most vulnerable groups in society. Law enforcement and investigators must act swiftly and decisively to ensure safe surroundings and the best interests of a child.
"Working with detectives from both the Tucson Police Department and the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, we saw truly phenomenal cooperation as both agencies conducted a professional, thorough and extraordinarily well-coordinated investigation.
"Specifically, I want to recognize Tucson Chief of Police Robert Villaseñor and his Detectives, Hickey and Avalos, and Sgt. Pegnato-Hill also from the Tucson Police Department and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu and his detective, Detective Munger from the Pinal County Sheriff's Office for their cooperation, outstanding work, investigation, and dedication to working with and remaining in communication with my prosecutors throughout the investigation.”