A couple accused of keeping the wife’s three daughters captive in Pima County are now facing added charges in Pinal County. Fernando and Sophia Richter have been charged with kidnapping and child abuse in Pima County for allegedly keeping Sophia’s three daughters, ages 12, 13 and 17, imprisoned in their bedrooms. Fernando Richter is also facing aggravated assault charges for threatening two of the girls with a knife. He has also been charged in a separate case for assault on a corrections officer at Pima County Jail.
The Richters are now being charged in Pinal County with multiple counts of child abuse and kidnapping that allegedly occurred while they were living in Pinal County. They pled not guilty at a hearing held Jan. 31 in Pinal County Superior Court. Sophia Richter has been indicted on nine felony charges. Fernando Richter has been indicted on 15 felonies including aggravated assault, sexual abuse and child molestation.
The charges are the result of an investigation which began in November when two of the girls escaped from the Tucson home and notified a neighbor. The police then discovered the 17-year-old sister locked in a bedroom. She was being held separately from the two younger girls. All three were found malnourished and dirty. They told officers they had not bathed in months. The younger girls said they had not seen their 17-year-old sister in two years. It is believed by authorities that the majority of the crimes were committed in Pinal County while the family was living in Catalina from March 2011 until last August. Sophia Richter, 32, is being held on $100,000 bond. A Pinal County Judge ordered Fernando Richter, 34, held without bond. The three sisters are in state custody and are together according to authorities.
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 Villasenor and his Detectives, Hickey and Avalos, and Sgt. Pregnato-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.”