Nine children and mentally disabled adults left in handcuffs and zip ties.
Malnourished and their true identities are unknown at this time. They have been rescued mainly due to a young woman found wondering after being abandoned by her adoptive mother.
Abandoned at a Publix store in St. Petersburg, Fl. July 4, 2007, 3 hours away from her home in Port St. Lucie, FL. this woman's story leads police on a long road of discovery.
After this young woman was found the police were called. She was taken to a St. Vincent DePaul Shelter and a DCF investigation into her claims was started.
Two DCF investigators, Lemaster and Olaleye, were initially put on the case as it involved both children and adults possibly as victims of abuse.
The young woman told of being with "Judith" (her adoptive mother) since she was 5 years-old living in different places and never being allowed to go outside. She stated she had never seen a doctor and had never been to school.
At the approximate age of 15 she tells of zip ties being placed on her wrists and left on almost daily. If "Judith" left the home she would then be connected to another one of her "brothers or sisters" via a second zip tie connecting them to keep them from wandering and in the home. The young woman has scars on both wrists confirming her statements. They would have to wet themselves rather than go to the restroom as they had been told to sit until "Judith" would return.
According to her statement she and her brothers and sisters slept in a small hallway on the floor on a sheet and a pillow they had no blankets to cover themselves. She said threats against her life such as getting shot or her head cut off were made against her regularly.
The police and DCF tried to made contact with Judith at her Port St. Lucie home. After an unusually long wait "Judith" answered the door and told them she lived in her home with only one son and that the girl had left her home over a year ago. She denied everything the girl had told investigators.
It was learned that in 1999 allegations had been made against "Judith" and that she had fled the area to avoid a DCF investigation at that time and for some (unknown at this time) reason that case had been closed.
The police and DCF went back to the home to find out where these people indeed were and to interview them check on their welfare. when they arrived they found the home appeared abandoned with the shutters closed and no one home.
Judith's five bedroom home in Port St. Lucie, Fl
The police were concerned for the welfare of the children and mentally-challenged adults that were supposed to be in "Judith's" care. They entered the home (with a search warrant) and found what appeared a home hurriedly abandoned. Pictures taken off the walls, closets open with some clothing gone.
They found a small hallway in the home as it had been described to them by the young woman. This small area had three doors, all were locked from the outside and equipped with deadlocks so that anyone inside would not be able to get out if the doors were locked unless they had a key. Also inside this hallway were cabinets containing clothing belonging to multiple persons, also confirming what they had been told. Handcuffs, zip ties, pillows and a variety of paperwork were found and taken as evidence.
The police then learned "Judith" had another home in Sanford, FL. The Sanford police were contacted and asked to check the residence and to see if the children and four adult adoptees were with her. The Sanford police met with resistance when they arrived but eventually did manage to get into the home and found four children and four adults. They were all taken from the home and are currently temporary care.
The four children who were aged possibly between 14-17 did go through medical examinations. (No names are being given due to their ages and circumstances along with the fact that police are unsure of their correct names at this time.)
TG a male aprox. 15 years old had ligatures on his wrists, scars on his back, and was at an aprox. 3rd grade level.
TW a female aprox. 16 had burns on her lower legs, was at 3rd or 4th grade level and was in the 25% for her height and weight for her age.
JG a male aprox. 15 had scars on his back, medically neglected and scoliosis, has a stunted growth at the 7th percentile in his height and 4th percentile of his weight class. He was found to be at a 2nd or 3rd grade level.
RE a male aprox. 16 was found to be medically fragile, could not stand up straight and walked hunched over, he has vision and dental problems. And he is not on the growth charts at all for his height and weight. He is was also found to be illiterate.
The specific condition of the mentally-disabled adults is not being reported at this time other than being malnourished and of being in poor condition also.
This horrifying case gets even more twisted as the police find the woman they believe to be 62 years old and going by the name "Judith Leekin" has more than one social security number, two drivers licenses under two different names with different countries of birth listed, Venezuela and Tobago Trinidad. Other names she is known to have gone by are Judith S. Johnson, Judith Leekin-de Johnson, Michelle Wells and Eastlyn J. Giraud.
She had no known source of income and it is suspected at this time she has supported her lifestyle by collecting money on the persons she was supposed to be taking care of and raising but the police have been unable to confirm this as they have found no evidence of her receiving funds as of yet.
The document's the police took from her home included what appeared to be birth certificates and other documents that supposedly identify the children and adults but they the police have found they may be forgeries. So at this time the true ages and names of all these people in not known for sure at this point.
The young woman that this whole case started with was able to tell police she had been adopted in New York City. The police have contacted New York officials to get any documents unsealed such as birth certificates and any reports from caseworkers that might shed some light onto the situation.
Allegations made by a woman (eight years ago) that lived with "Judith" eight years ago "Judith" does not work. She has over 10 children between the ages of 6 and 17 years of age. They were adopted in AKA names and only 2 go to school. The woman also claimed that "Judith" got money for these children from New York."
So how does a 62 year-old woman control nine people? The medical condition of the children tells some of her methods along with the statements from the young woman of the threats she endured. Obviously there are others involved in this as it was reported that a neighbor saw "Judith" and others load up into two vehicles when she made her run to Sanford. So who were these persons.
There are a lot of unanswered questions in this case and it will probably be a long time sorting it all out but at least these children and adults are no longer in the "care" of this woman and police, DCF and the FBI are all involved in trying to sort it all out.
So far the charges this woman is being held on include 1 count of tampering with a victim, 4 counts aggravated child abuse, 1 count aggravated child abuse (the young woman) , unauthorized possession of, and other unlawful acts in relation to, driver's license or identification card.
"Judith Leekin" is being held at the St. Lucie County Jail at this time after turning herself in, in lieu of $435,000 bail she is considered a high flight risk and it was requested she get no bond at this time.
Anyone with any information on this case please come forward and talk to the police :
Port St. Lucie Police Department
121 SW Port St. Lucie Blvd.
Port St. Lucie Fl 34984
PDF files of the arrest warrents can be found here and here.
A video statement from the police can be viewed here.