Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Public safety

Bail set for mother Tampa police say starved, tortured her children

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County circuit judge set bail at $120,000 Saturday morning for the mother who police say starved and tortured her eight children.

Arrested Thursday, Jamie Marie Hicks, 43, is charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse and two counts of child neglect.

Over eight years, Hicks hit the children with various objects, choked them to the point of unconsciousness, held their heads under water, fed them spoiled food and withheld food from them for as long as three days, Tampa police said.

The two oldest children, twin 16-year-old sons, were declared malnourished by a pediatric nurse Thursday and hospitalized. One was 88 pounds; the other was 94. They should be 135 pounds, authorities say.

During the bond hearing, Hicks appeared in court on a video feed from jail as Judge William Fuente read aloud the charges against her.

Fuente was given a photograph of one of the twins, which the State Attorney's Office said showed a completely malnourished child with visible bones.

The twins' stepfather, Vernon Courtney Lovell, who police say knew of the abuse and didn't report it, also appeared before Fuente on Saturday morning. He is charged with two counts of child neglect and his bail was set at $20,000.

The criminal charges stem from the abuse of the twins. Police expect more charges as medical reports on the younger children are complete.

The Florida Department of Children and Families is sheltering all eight children and now has an open investigation into the situation. Hicks and Lovell, 53, were ordered to have no contact with the children.

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