Children held hostage: Family suspicious but never learned truth

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Children held hostage: Family suspicious but never learned truth

By Craig Smith. CREATED Nov 27, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The three girls are free of the house on North Estrella now.
Now the adults charged with imprisoning them are the ones without freedom.
In her first hearing in front of a judge Sophia Richter looked scared as she confirmed her name.

The judge ordered a 75 thousand dollar bond.
She was told she can see her children but only supervised by Child Protective Services and her attorney will see her by the end of the week.

Earlier, Fernando Richter looked stunned as he sat in court.  His only words observers could hear was his name.

Richter's bond: 100 thousand dollars.
Outside court Sophia Richter's sister Michelle said she went years without seeing her nieces while Sophia offered explanations that were hard to believe.

"She always had them places, in programs, she said they were in San Diego, they would go to Sea World every day.  She made these stories up like they were in good hands."

The family says Sophia's calls even came in with a San Diego area code.  Francisco Richter's family was not willing to give an interview.

Michelle says Sophia was devoted to Fernando Richter but the family found him abusive.
Michelle- who did not want to show her face on camera- describes Fernando Richter as someone who treated kids like objects to be collected.

"When I hung around with him, two and a half years ago, what he was saying about them, they were nothing but a collection.  He would keep receipts on them.  That's pretty much what I told him, I said you don't love my nieces, they're nothing but a receipt to you."

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press