Crystal has never met her two younger sisters. But in the aftermath of the arrest of their parents, she now says she wants to take care of them.
“I just want to help them,” Crystal said. “I know what it’s like to live there.”
Crystal’s parents, Vincent and Carol McDonald, were arrested and charged with child endangerment last week.
Delaware County caseworkers opened an investigation into the couple in August after getting reports of their 7-year-old daughter being found dirty and running around Chichester Township in August.
On Tuesday, the caseworkers told Upper Chichester Police the 7-year-old girl had not received any medical attention in more than four years. They also claimed the girl was never enrolled in school. The caseworkers told police they were concerned about the girl’s 5-year-old sister as well.
A detective, police officer as well as two caseworkers then went to the McDonalds' home on the 800 block of Bethel Avenue. The officers say they immediately noticed a foul odor from the when they arrived.
When confronted by the officers, Vincent allegedly admitted conditions inside his home were unsafe and also gave conflicting reports of the whereabouts of his children.
The officers say he finally allowed them inside the house after a few minutes. When they went inside, the officers say they found mold, feces, urine and animals running loose. They then say they found the two girls malnourished, dirty and with bug bites on their legs.
The officers say they also found Carol inside the home. The woman appeared to be under the influence of prescription medication, was unsteady and confused, according to investigators.
Police arrested both parents. They were charged with endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment. They are both being held in prison after failing to post bail.
Aside from the two young girls, the couple had 10 other children and were arrested for child neglect in the past. In the aftermath of their most recent arrest, their adult children are coming forward, claiming they suffered years of abuse.
“I spent the majority of the day under a bed with chains on the outside of the door,” Julianne, one of their children, said while in tears. “And if they remembered me they would come and feed me. If not, the day might pass through and we might not eat, might not drink. It was torture. Our entire childhood was torture.”
Crystal, the oldest sibling, says the family would constantly move in order to evade the authorities.
“If they had the slightest suspicion, that’s when they would up and leave,” Crystal says.
In 2002, the law finally caught up to the couple. Court records show they pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of six of their children, who were later removed from their custody. That’s when Crystal says she and her siblings were placed into foster care. But the abuse didn’t stop there. Vincent was found guilty of endangering the welfare of his children back in 2005.
After Tuesday’s arrest, Crystal hopes the cycle of abuse will finally end. She also wants to adopt her two youngest sisters.
“I feel like I’m capable of helping,” she said. “I really want to help.”