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Mpls. abuse case: What we know now

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The house where Jerry Lee Curry and Shelia Machelle Wilson lived
The house where Jerry Lee Curry and Shelia Machelle Wilson lived with their family sits on 17th Ave. S. in south Minneapolis on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The abuse and neglect case of two south Minneapolis 21-year-old developmentally delayed twins and their younger sister raises questions about the system designed to protect children and vulnerable adults. 

Between August 2011 and June 2017, police made dozens of visits to the family's home. The family also had contacts with social workers and medical staff. Here's what we know so far from police calls and criminal, probate and juvenile court records.

 Who was charged?

Jerry Lee Curry, 52, is jailed on charges he raped, beat and chained his now 21-year-old twin daughters in their home.

The twins' mother, Shelia Machelle Wilson, 48, is jailed on two counts of felony neglect and one misdemeanor count of neglect in the case. Wilson has denied allegations of physical abuse and child neglect. She told a therapist she believes her children "fabricated these allegations of sexual abuse."

The couple also has an 11-year-old daughter, who told authorities her father once hit her with a golf club. 

The relationships

It remains unclear if Curry and Wilson are, or were, married. They told police and neighbors they are brother and sister, but later denied it to police. The 11-year-old's birth certificate lists Wilson as unmarried.

Curry and Wilson are both developmentally disabled. The severity of their disabilities is unclear.

Curry and Wilson are also the parents of the 21-year-old twins, one of whom had two children. Those two children, a 3-year-old boy, and a 5-month daughter, are not victims in the pending criminal case. 

Jerry Lee Curry and Sheila Wilson
Jerry Lee Curry, 52, is jailed on charges of rape, assault and stalking. Shelia Machelle Wilson, 48, is being held on three counts of criminal neglect. They are parents of 21-year-old twin daughters who have outlined years of rape, beatings and torture in what one official called a "house of horrors."
Courtesy of Hennepin County Jail

Authorities ordered DNA tests for the entire family. One such test established Curry as the father of his daughter's infant. 

The allegations

Both twins reported to authorities they were routinely chained to the bed and one said she was chained in the basement for days.  They said they were beaten with bats, a paddle and a broom and denied food. One twin suffered gangrene from injuries she suffered from the chaining and torture and was hospitalized for that. She reported that Curry would not allow her to use the toilet and she was left to lay in her own feces and urine. One reported that their father "pimped" them to strangers in exchange for crack cocaine.

They said their mother, who was twice appointed their guardian after they turned 18, knew about the rape and abuse and did nothing. 

One twin is listed to have the mental capacity of a 3-year-old; the other as a nearly 7-year-old.

The children

The twins, both of whom have court-appointed guardians, are receiving care at Twin Cities facilities.

Their 11-year-old daughter is in foster care and the county is moving to terminate Wilson's parental rights. That case is ongoing. 

The 3-year-old boy and 5-month old girl — both children of one of the twins — currently live with the same foster family who have expressed interest in adopting the children.   

The police

Police were called to the home 53 times from August 2011 through June 2017.

The calls ranged from loud music, to 13 for domestic abuse, seven for lost or missing children and six asking officers to check the welfare of occupants. In at least 10 cases, officers filed reports in the case. The nature of three calls and their outcome were redacted from information provided to MPR News. 

It was unclear if officers went inside the home or if they reported the family to county child protection workers. A Minneapolis police spokeswoman said she could not talk about specific cases.

The landlord declined comment. 

The doctors

In February 2017, one of the twins was admitted to Hennepin County Medical Center for 13 days for the "excision of a wound and a skin graft on her right ankle." The nature of that wound was not disclosed but the twin told authorities after her parents were arrested that she was taken to the hospital to have surgery for gangrene. She said that infection came from wounds she suffered being chained in the basement and left to stand in her own feces and urine. 

In September, 2016, Wilson took the now 3-year-old son of one of the twins to HCMC for a check-up after not being seen by doctors for 24 months. His speech and motor skills were found to be delayed. The doctor in that case said he did not call county workers because "Wilson seemed not to be purposefully negligent." 

Less than a month later Wilson took the boy back to the hospital after he had been throwing up for 30 days. Hospital personnel did notify county workers who asked the court to terminate parental rights. 

The social workers

Hennepin County child protection workers opened at least three cases into Wilson and Curry: 

• March 2013, social workers were alerted to suspected sexual abuse of the twins and unsanitary living conditions. The allegations were denied and the case was closed.

  • June 2016, child protection workers were called to the home on a report of suspected sexual abuse of the couple's youngest daughter. Workers found evidence of maltreatment by Wilson. Curry was not living at the home at the time. That case was closed in October after Wilson followed the plan outline by county workers.

• May 2017, one of the twins reported abuse that brought police to the home and sparked the ongoing criminal investigation and parallel children protection and guardianship cases.

Editor's Note: MPR News is continuing to report this story and will update it as we learn more.