TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It's been one year since the rescue of three sisters who were allegedly held captive by their parents in a midtown Tucson home. The oldest of the sisters, an 18-year-old girl, is opening up for the first time and sharing her story exclusively with Tucson News Now.
The girl requested we not use her identity as she has been trying to move on with her life, although she admitted, moving forward has been tough.
"I am not in the healing process a year later," she said.
She was brutally open and honest about the ordeal she endured along with her two half sisters. All three were locked up in two separate rooms in the home, the 18-year-old girl by herself.
"For two years I had no contact with the outside world. I didn't even see the sun," the girl said.
In those rooms she told us they were monitored by cameras, and forced to listen to loud music and static all day. We asked her what that was like, the girl said she got used to it.
"At first sleep was really hard, but after a while it felt good. I didn't have to hear my sisters, I didn't have to hear my mom and Fernando," the girl said.
Court documents stated the girls were beaten with wooden spoons, hangers, and wires. The girl said they started using objects after the beatings from her mother's hands were not strong enough to make them cry.
"Fernando didn't want to touch us with his hands, so he used a spoon, and a coat hanger, but those broke so he used a TV wire," the girl said.
Court documents also stated the girls had to raise their hands, put on a cap, and wait in their rooms when they wanted to go to the bathroom. The caps were used so their hair would not shed. The girl said Fernando hated finding hair in the bathroom, so he got them satin caps to cover their heads.
When they were in the bathroom, they were given a few seconds to go, their mother would be standing outside and telling them to hurry up. Showers were only allowed to last three minutes, according to the girl. We asked her what they would do if the parents did not answer their call to go to the bathroom.
"Sometimes if it was emergencies, we would go in our closets," the girl said.
Starvation was never an issue, the teenager said they were fed several times a day. In fact, too much food was the issue.
"The doctor specifically told my mom don't feed her noodles, bread, and bananas. For some reason after that she decided to just feed me noodles, bananas and bread. She would give me 10 breads at every meal. I had to eat all of it. They would feed me at 2 o'clock in the morning, and if didn't want to eat my mom started getting angry about it and throwing the food at me, grabbing it with a spoon and shoving it down my throat," she said.
Even though they were separated by a wall for almost two years, the girl said she did not see her two half sisters who were locked up in the next room. They even traveled in a car together while moving from the home in Pinal County to Tucson, but she still did not see her sisters.
"My sisters had to lay down in the back seat, I was in the trunk of the car. I had stuff on top of me but my head was free so I could breathe. I didn't even know where we were going. When we pulled up here, it was in the garage area and I never knew what the house looked like outside, nothing. He took us straight to our rooms," she said.
When we asked her how she was doing a year later, the answer surprised me. The teenager said she actually missed living in the "house of horrors," she missed her life the way it had been, and felt she was better off in there.
"I myself ... I wouldn't want to be out. In there we were protected, nobody was hurting us. It was for my own safety that they locked us. Mom and Fernando were very protective over us," she said.
She said she had been to jail to visit her mom three times, and she hated it. We asked how she felt about her mother, she said she was not a hateful person who held grudges, but she hated her mom and wanted to see her suffer.
The girl said her mother would write her letters saying, "I love you," and it made her angry because she felt she was insincere, and the only reason she was expressing those feelings now was because she had nothing else.
"She is just desperate, I really hate her," she said.
As for her stepfather, Fernando Richter, the girl said she felt sorry for him because the whole family was blaming the whole ordeal on him and making him out to be the bad guy. The girl called Fernando her "protector" and said he was nicer to her than her own mother had been.
The girl denied the allegations of sexual abuse, saying Fernando had never been inappropriate with her.
The 18-year-old just graduated as a valedictorian from high school and was excited about starting college. She plans to major in crime scene investigations, and wants to be a crime scene technician.
She planned to spend Thanksgiving day with her two sisters and relatives.