A woman in Maricopa, Arizona, has been arrested, accused of physical abuse against her seven adoptive children.
Maricopa police say that on March 13, an adult woman came to their department and said her mother, 48-year-old Machelle Hackney, had been abusing her siblings.
According to a police report, she said the siblings were left in locked closets for days at a time, pepper sprayed and left with no food or water for days on end by their adoptive mother.
Police went to the home and allegedly found a child in a closet wearing a pull-up diaper and no other clothing. The closet had a lock on it, but it was not locked at the time.
Police say they children appeared pale, underweight and had bags under their eyes.
One of the children told police they were pepper sprayed numerous times as punishment by his mother, among other physical abuse.
"I either get beat with a hanger or belt, or a brush, or get pepper sprayed from head to toe.”
The others described similar abuse, including abuse to their private parts and being forced to take ice baths.
Police also say the children were also forced to participate and “act” in a popular YouTube series that Hackney filmed in their home. Several of the children said if they forgot lines, or tried not to participate, they would be physically abused as punishment.
Police interviewed one of Hackney’s adult sons. Logan Hackney said he and his brother Ryan discussed reporting the abuse, but never did.
Logan allegedly admitted to knowing about the physical abuse, and said they would sneak the children food when possible.
When questioned, Machelle Hackney "denied the pepper spray, denied the ice baths and stated the only forms of punishment she uses is having to stand in the corner, getting spankings and being grounded,” according to police paperwork.
Logan Hackney and Ryan Hackney were booked into Pinal County Jail for seven counts each of failing to report abuse of a minor. Machelle was booked into Pinal County Jail for two counts of molestation of a child, seven counts of child abuse, five counts of unlawful imprisonment and five counts of child neglect.