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US

Mom and grandfather charged with torturing girl found chained to bed

September 10, 1999
Web posted at: 12:29 a.m. EDT (0429 GMT)

RIVERSIDE, California (CNN) -- The mother and grandfather of a 6-year-old girl who was found chained to a brass bed in a house littered with feces and trash pleaded not guilty to three felony charges of child endangerment.

Cindi Topper, mother of victim Betty Topper, and Loren Bess, the grandfather, were arraigned Thursday in criminal court on charges of torture, the infliction of great bodily injury and false imprisonment of a child.

They were represented by a court-appointed public defender, bail for each of them was set at $250,000 and they remain in custody.

Betty Topper was taken to Loma Linda University Children's Hospital after authorities found her Tuesday chained to a bed post by what appeared to be a dog leash.

According to police, the girl's mother said Betty was tied to the bed for five years.

The girl remains in fair condition and doctors continue to assess her developmental level.

Authorities were tipped by an anonymous caller who described the house but gave no address. The caller said the child had not been seen for years.

Deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff's department searched door to door until, they said, the child's grandfather let them in.

"There was trash floor to ceiling. There was human and animal feces everywhere," said Sgt. Perri Feinstein-Portales. "They made their way to a back bedroom where they see a little girl, chained by a dog leash to a brass bed with a harness around her waist. She had nothing but a diaper on. She had waist-length hair and was covered with feces and filth."

"She was extremely malnourished and pale, as if she had never seen the light of day. She cowered in a fetal position when officers tried to talk to her. Eventually she was smiling and stroking an officer's hair when we transported her."

In 1983, Topper was severely beaten by her former boyfriend, Ivan Von Staich, after he killed her husband, beating him with a hammer and shooting him three times.

Cindi Topper was critically injured in the attack and underwent two cranial surgeries.



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