Woman extradited to Texas after handcuffed, malnourished kids escaped home, report says

Suspect is facing four charges relating to assault on family members

Twins escape abusive home, run to get neighbors help in Cypress neighborhood

A woman whose twin children were found handcuffed and malnourished after they escaped their Houston-area home has been extradited to Texas.

Zaikiya Duncan, 40, appeared in a Harris County court on Sunday and was charged with two counts of assault on a family member and two counts of aggravated assault on a family member, authorities told KPRC, KSAT’s sister station in Houston.

Duncan and her boyfriend, Jova Terrell, were arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, earlier this month after the twins’ discovery sparked an Amber Alert.

This combo of images provided by the Harris County Sheriff's Department shows, from left, Zaikiya Duncan, 40, left, and Jova Terrell, 27, who were arrested in Louisiana this week hours after a teenager told Texas police that he and his twin sister were handcuffed and endured horrific abuse escaped their family's home after he found a handcuff key and hid it in his mouth, authorities said in court records. (Harris County Sheriff's Department via AP)

On the night of Oct. 17, two 16-year-old twin siblings left their home in handcuffs and ran for help, KPRC previously reported.

The twins said they didn’t know their address, as they had reportedly just moved to the area and hadn’t been outside.

Investigators later found their home, but when officers arrived, the family had already left.

An Amber Alert was then issued for the couple and the five children, whose ages range from 7-14.

The Harris County Precinct 5 Constable’s Office said the siblings’ 18-year-old brother was also missing.

The couple was later located by Louisiana State Police and taken into custody, the office said. Only one child was with them, and the couple said the others were dropped off at a relative’s house.

The children were later found safe, authorities said.

According to an affidavit, the twins told authorities that they had been abused for months, and Duncan made them drink bleach and household cleaners.

She sprayed oven cleaner in their mouths “if they talked too much,” the affidavit said.

In 2012 in Louisiana, Duncan and another man were accused of locking their children in a closet while other kids were subjected to various forms of abuse. One of her children, then 5, was taken to a school clinic with injuries that included burns consistent with being submerged in hot water, according to court records. It was not immediately known whether that child was one of the twins.

Duncan was initially charged with cruelty to a juvenile but ultimately pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of child desertion. She was sentenced to six months in prison, the maximum sentence for child desertion under Louisiana law.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.