Martha Crouch, 53, and Timothy Crouch, 57, of Farmington, were arrested Monday, San Juan County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Jayme Harcrow said. The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department began investigating the couple when someone reported that their children weren't getting an education, KOB-TV reported.
Some of the couple's eight sons and seven daughters told authorities of the alleged abuse they suffered, which is detailed in an arrest warrant affidavit, The Farmington Daily Times reported.
The couple’s 17-year-old daughter told authorities that in May, she told Martha Crouch she was upset that she and her siblings weren’t getting an education, and threatened to call social services. Martha Crouch then beat her with a kitchen tool, the daughter said.
In another instance, the daughter said Martha Crouch took puppies from the family dog and boiled them in a pot of water while some of the children watched.
Another daughter said the parents kept her on a chain for three years to make her lose weight, KQRE-TV reported.
The 17-year-old daughter said Martha Crouch and four young children hid at a neighbor’s house when CYFD visited the family home May 22. She said the family often moved to avoid investigations from social services.
Social service agencies in Alaska, Kansas, Missouri and Montana have investigated the couple regarding abuse allegations, The Daily Times reported.
The couple’s 31-year-old son, also named Timothy Crouch, told KOB-TV the allegations against his parents aren’t true.
“My family are wonderful people,” he said. “My mom and dad are some of the best people you'll meet.”
Martha Crouch faces a third-degree felony count of child abuse, a fourth-degree felony count of extreme cruelty to animals and a misdemeanor count of obstruction of investigation of child abuse or neglect, according to court records.
Timothy Crouch is accused of a misdemeanor count of obstruction of investigation of child abuse or neglect, according to court records.
Both suspects are being held without bond at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.
The four young children are now in the custody of CYFD, Harcrow said.