Osage County couple arrested for gruesome child abuse

Graphic details in this story may be disturbing to readers.

OSAGE COUNTY, Okla. -- More charges and even another arrest could happen in a child "torture" case.

The Osage County Sheriff's Office is calling it one of the worst cases they have seen.

Laura Thomas, 47, is facing child abuse charges and her husband, 58 year-old Aubrey Stuart Thomas, is facing charges for enabling the abuse.

Laura Thomas is still in custody in the Osage County Jail; her husband Aubrey Thomas is out on bond.  

Investigators say the abuse occurred at their home in Sperry.

"It's a terrible thing that something like that can happen not just in a neighborhood like this but anywhere," said neighbor Jim Spears.

"I can't imagine people doing such horrid things," said neighbor Paula Byfield.

"It is - if not the most - probably one of the most heinous crimes we've had in our county," said Undersheriff LouAnn Brown with the Osage County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators say the Thomas' four adopted children, two boys and two girls, were abused for as long as nine years. The children are between 13 and 15 years old.

"Food was an issue, and punishment, was they were only allowed a certain amount of food, the kids have talked about that and if they overstepped that limit then there was punishment," Brown said.

Court documents detail the children were allegedly paddled regularly, forced to eat horse manure, forced to perform sex acts, fed bar soap and cayenne pepper and forced to vomit food and eat it off the floor.

"It's hard because we have families of our own and for people to be able to adopt children and then abuse them like these children have been abused, it's just wrong," Brown said.

According to court documents, the couple had two other foster children who were removed from the home in 2003 by the Department of Human Services after signs of abuse were discovered.
    
DHS released a statement from their communications director, Sheree Powell, regarding this current investigation.

The horrendous acts of abuse this couple is accused of committing against these children are sickening.  Our primary concern is for the well-being of these children and getting them the care and treatment they need. 

We are rigorously reviewing this case to find any mistakes made by our agency and others during the years of involvement with this family. We are asking the same questions of our staff about this case that everyone wants to know. If it is determined that employees of this agency did not protect these children as required, we will take appropriate personnel action.

This is absolutely intolerable. It is our mission to protect children and we will take whatever corrective action is needed to ensure this does not happen in the future.

The couple has at least three older biological children. Investigators say one is around 18 years old and still lives in the home.

Those at the home declined to comment.

All four children are in protective custody tonight.

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