Hillsboro woman arrested on child neglect, abuse charges
A Hillsboro woman has been arrested on charges she neglected and beat three children in her home over several years.
Merlinda Avalos, 49, was arrested Thursday, June 21. She faces a dozen counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment and another charge of tampering with evidence.
According to Hillsboro Police, Avalos abused three children over the course of six years, starting in 2012.
All three victims are related to Avalos. The children lived with her after she was made the childrens' guardian in 2012 when the children were 4, 5 and 6 years old.
Prosecutors say the children were forced to share one room, were not allowed the use the bathroom during the night and instead were forced to urinate into a jug.
The children showered only one day a week and were forced to wear urine-soaked clothes to school, police said. If the children made any noise they would be beaten with any instrument or object within reach.
According to police, the children were fed only one peanut butter sandwich for breakfast and another for dinner.
The children were not allowed to read, play outside or watch television, investigators said.
Police say the abuse against the children — now ages 10, 11 and 12 — continued until earlier this year.
When authorities began investigating the incidents, prosecutors claim Avalos destroyed or concealed evidence against her to hinder the investigation.
Avalos is also believed to have been an elderly adult caregiver, according to police. Authorities believe there may be additional victims.
The case is still under investigation, but police suspect there may be additional victims or witnesses. Anyone with information is asked to call Hillsboro Police at 503-681-6175.
By Geoff Pursinger
Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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