State takes custody of 7 special needs children locked in 'deplorable' house

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas – The mother of seven disabled children taken into custody by state welfare workers had an extensive criminal history at the time she adopted the children, according to investigators.

A CPS spokesperson says prior to 2006, background checks for prospective parents only covered crimes committed in Texas. That year the requirement was expanded to include the entire U.S.

CPS also said checks are done at minimum every two years, and no criminal history showed in Texas during each check of the mother.

According to investigators, Paula Sinclair has a criminal record across five states: Texas, California, Louisiana, New York and New Jersey, which includes burglary, fraud, forgery and theft.

The state took custody of the children Tuesday after Fort Bend County officials found them malnourished and living in deplorable conditions at a Richmond-area house just before Thanksgiving.

Police said the children were adopted between April 2003 and October 2004 by Sinclair, 54, and her husband, who does not live at the house and is not facing charges. Allen Richardson, 78, also known as "Coach," also lived at the house, is facing charges.

The children -- two 14-year-olds, four 15-year-olds and one 16-year-old -- were malnourished, locked in a filthy, bug-infested room that smelled of human waste according to police. They were never allowed to go to school or leave the room. The children told investigators they risked being beaten if they tried to escape.

There are five boys and two girls. Two of the seven, including a 14-year-old boy with Down’s Syndrome, and another boy who is blind, are non-verbal.