Melford Warren Jr., 43, faces various child rape charges
A Washington father of 12 has been arrested for allegedly beating, starving and raping his children as part of a cult.
“These children were held against their will, denied nutrition, denied medical care, and physically and sexually abused,” Scott Wilson, of the Kitsap County Sheriff s Office, told Q13 Fox. “It’s one of the worst cases of abuse we’ve ever seen.”
A Kittitas County deputy first became suspicious last September after he visited an Ellensburg-area campsite following reports of unattended children. Their father, Melford Warren Jr., was out of sight, detectives say, because he was raping one of his children in the woods nearby, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
What followed was an eight-month investigation into the 43-year-old Warren and his two lovers, Amanjot Jaswal, 28, and Shannon Smith, 41, during the course of which Warren was arrested, only to be released and disappear before finally being taken into custody again last Thursday on charges of child rape.
Police say that the three lived together in a home east of Port Orchard. Between the two women, Warren had fathered a dozen children ranging in age from infanthood to 13.
When pressed by authorities, Jaswal and Smith refused to describe themselves as Warren’s wives or girlfriends, but instead called themselves “breeders,” the Post-Intelligencer reports.
The women, who face misdemeanor charges for child neglect, stood by while Warren abused his children, police say. Court papers indicate that Warren threw his 14-month-old daughter against a couch, breaking her arm. When her mother took her to the hospital, Jaswal refused to allow staff to X-ray her child because “she feared the radiation might prevent her daughter from being able to have children someday,” Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office Detective Nicole Menge said in charging papers obtained by the Post-Intelligencer.
Police spoke with Warren about the break, which occurred back in August, but there was not enough evidence to charge Warren with assault at the time.
Shortly after he spoke with authorities, Warren, Jaswal and Smith, together with their children, fled Kitsap County for Kittitas County, where the deputy would later report he felt “some kind of cult activity” was going on at the campground where the family was staying.
Police noted that the children’s behavior was suspicious and that they seemed trained to avoid law enforcement. “They would not speak with the adults involved with the case unless the oldest boy told them they could,” Menge wrote.
Seven of the children were taken into custody by Department of Social and Health Services workers at the campground, while Warren was arrested on a warrant out in Maryland, though he was later released after authorities declined to extradite him.
But then, two of his daughters stepped forward to report his abuse earlier this month. One of them told investigators that Warren had raped her on the very day she was rescued by Department of Social and Health Services workers. The other said he beat her because she didn’t know how to read.
The children also revealed that they’d never been to school or seen a dentist.
Authorities finally caught up to Warren in Miami last Thursday. Kitsap County prosecutors have charged him with first-degree child molestation, second-degree assault of a child and two counts of first-degree rape of a child. He is being held on $5 million bail and has not yet entered a plea.
Jaswal and Smith have pleaded not guilty to charges relating to child neglect.
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