Cypress mother charged in child abuse case now pregnant with her 9th child; Her bond set at $4.5M

CYPRESS, Texas – The woman who was arrested after her twin teenagers told authorities they were handcuffed in their own home and endured horrific abuse had her bond increased to $4.5 million by a Harris County judge on Thursday.

Zaikiya Duncan, 40, is charged with two counts of assault on a family member and two counts of aggravated assault on a family member, two charges for each child.

“There’s going to be plenty more evidence that comes out, we think, potentially related to the situation in this home,” assistant district attorney Keegan Childers told reporters after the hearing. He said her other children need to be interviewed and additional charges are possible.

Duncan is pregnant with her ninth child, prosecutors revealed Thursday. They’re also looking into video evidence she may have deleted, something she told law enforcement in Louisiana when they captured her following an hours-long AMBER Alert.

“These kids were being starved for months – they were being forced to drink bleach, household cleaners, forced to ingest all sorts of toxic chemicals,” Childers said. “We hope those kids can get all the help they need. We hope to seek justice for them in this case.”

According to court documents, Duncan kept the teens handcuffed inside the laundry room of the home in Cypress they moved to over the summer. They were forced to urinate and defecate on themselves and sometimes had bleach poured on them, resulting in burns to their skin.

“I will also likely be looking into her mental state and hiring experts to accomplish that,” Duncan’s court-appointed defense attorney Todd Dupont said, adding that he isn’t sure how far along his client is in her pregnancy.

Dupont said it could take up to three years before the case goes to trial.

What we know

The investigation started on Monday, Oct. 17 when Duncan’s two 16-year-old twins escaped from their Cypress home where they were allegedly handcuffed. They ran and knocked on a neighbor’s door to help them call the police around 5:30 a.m., investigators said.

The twins claimed they didn’t know their address because they hadn’t lived there long and didn’t go outside. Law enforcement officials said once they figured out where they were living and went to the home, Duncan, her boyfriend Jova Terrell, her adult child and five other children were gone.

Louisiana State Police arrested Duncan and Terrell around 5 p.m. on Oct. 18, a couple of hours after an AMBER Alert for her five other children was issued.

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 twins, who deputies said were bruised up and malnourished, were taken to the hospital.

Deputies said Duncan and Terrell likely fled the home after realizing the twins had escaped the home.

All of the children are now back in Texas in foster care, a spokesperson for the Department of Family and Protective Services confirmed to KPRC 2 on Thursday night. One of the children was just released from a Louisiana hospital earlier this week.

Terrell is still jailed in Louisiana, Childers said.

History of disturbing claims

According to Louisiana court records, 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 children 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,” according to authorities.

Other court documents revealed more claims of abuse, including lack of proper hygiene, lacerations on the twins’ wrists, bleeding blisters, and claims that Duncan would pour bleach around their genital areas, causing their skin to burn.