CYPRESS – The mother and stepfather who allegedly took five children from the Cypress area have been captured in Baton Rouge, according to the Harris County Precinct 5 Constable’s Office.
The Louisiana State Police arrested the children’s mother, Zaikiya Duncan and her boyfriend, Jova Terrell, around 5 p.m. Tuesday, a couple of hours after an AMBER Alert was issued. They are being brought back to Texas to face first-degree injury to a child charges.
Deputies said when the couple was caught, only one of the five children was with them. The suspects told law enforcement the remaining children were dropped off at a relative’s home, and they were later found safe by Louisiana law enforcement.
The five children, identified as 7-year-old Nicholas Menina, 10-year-old Zayden Menina, 12-year-old Jovion Menina, 12-year-old Javier Menina and 14-year-old Jarod Menina; were last seen Tuesday at 8703 Marina Alto Lane in Cypress around 5:30 a.m.
An 18-year-old brother of the children was also missing with the couple.
This all started on Monday when, according to authorities, two 16-year-old twins escaped from their Cypress home where they were allegedly handcuffed. They ran and found someone to help them call the police.
The twins told deputies they didn’t know their address because they moved in recently and hadn’t been outside recently.
“They’ve been here for about two weeks so they’re definitely new as well. They moved in about two weeks ago,” neighbor Krisjen Hurd said. “We didn’t speak when they first moved in, but as I said, the child went to school with my brother so we had a few conversations.”
Once police found the home where the children claimed they were handcuffed, their other five siblings were gone, along with the mother and her boyfriend.
The twins, who deputies said were bruised up and malnourished, were taken to the hospital and are now in CPS custody.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office has accepted charges of first-degree injury to a child, which were still being processed at last check, according to the Precinct 5 Constable’s Office.
Louisiana court records show Duncan was accused in 2012 of three counts of cruelty to juveniles after her 5-year-old was treated for burns consistent with being submerged in hot water. The child also allegedly regularly slept on a closet floor with boards in front of the door to stop them from “escaping and stealing food from the kitchen.”
It’s not clear yet when the couple will be booked in the Harris County Jail.