ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A woman is suspected of beating her children and forcing them to watch her torture and kill their pets in New Mexico and other states, authorities said.
Martha Crouch, 53, and her husband Timothy, 57, were arrested Monday after authorities interviewed the couple’s adult and young children who live in different states.
The investigation began following the arrest of one of the couple’s children on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. Detectives uncovered false allegations that two sons beat another brother to death and kidnapped a sister, but heard other claims of abuse, torture and extreme animal cruelty.
One teen daughter told authorities of physical and emotional abuse that had gotten so bad that two of her older siblings took her from New Mexico to Arizona to keep her safe, according to court documents. The teen said after one of their dogs had puppies, the mother "took the puppies and put them into a giant pot and boiled them, making all the kids watch," the documents said.
The girl told investigators the mother also fed a kitten poison.
When the family lived in Alaska, another daughter told police she was kept on a “fat chain” for three years because her mother thought she was overweight.
Deanna Taylor, an investigator with the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, said she received hundreds of pages of reports from other social service agencies in several other states, including Alaska, Kansas, Missouri and Montana.
Authorities also reported finding the body of a dog buried in the backyard that was shot as a punishment to the children.
According to court documents, Martha faces child abuse and extreme cruelty to animals charges. Her husband faces an obstruction charge.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.