How 16-year-old twins plotted escape from house of horrors: Boy hid keys to handcuffs in his MOUTH

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The two 16-year-old teens held captive in Texas by their mother made their daring escape after the boy hid the key to their handcuffs in his mouth and waited for their mom and her boyfriend to fall asleep. 

The severely malnourished teenage girl and boy have already told how they and their siblings had been starved, beaten, handcuffed, kept naked and forced to eat their own excrement. 

Court documents have now revealed that the boy held the key in his mouth and waited for mother Zaikiya Duncan, 40, and boyfriend Jova Terrell, 26, to fall asleep.

The children also alleged they were whipped with electrical cords, beaten with a metal rod, and made to drink bleach as a punishment. They said they had to drink water from a supply valve in the washing machine and that their mother would force them to take up to two dozen Benadryl in order to get to sleep.  

The neighbor who assisted them – who wishes to remain anonymous – spoke to Good Morning America Friday, in continued shock at the condition in which she found them. 

She said: ‘Their hands were so swollen, their poor hands were bigger than the rest of their bodies.’

Jeff McShan, a spokesman for the county constable’s office, confirmed the kids weren’t allowed to leave the laundry room and ‘were naked most of the time.’

Duncan and Terrell were detained after her eldest children, 16-year-old twins, escaped from the home the family had recently relocated to in Houston, Texas, and begged neighbors for help.

How 16-year-old twins plotted escape from house of horrors: Boy hid keys to handcuffs in his MOUTH

The two 16-year-old teens forced into captivity in Texas by their mother told the neighbor who helped them after their escape that they had to find a way to disconnect their washing machine to be able to drink water 

The neighbor who assisted them (pictured right) - who wishes to remain anonymous - spoke to Good Morning America Friday, in continued shock at the condition in which she found them

The neighbor who assisted them (pictured right) – who wishes to remain anonymous – spoke to Good Morning America Friday, in continued shock at the condition in which she found them

Zaikiya Duncan (pictured), the mother of the seven children

Duncan's boyfriend, 27-year-old Jova Terrell (pictured) was also arrested

Zaikiya Duncan, 40, (pictured), the mother of the children, has a history of prior child abuse allegations. Her boyfriend Jova Terrell, 27, (right) was also arrested on Tuesday

McShan confirmed to DailyMail.com that the pair have been charged with aggravated assault of a family member. 

The children remain hospitalized. It’s likely they will go into the foster system once they’ve physically recovered. 

The Texas Department of Family Protective Services has started their own investigation into the case. 

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This comes after disturbing new video emerged showing Duncan dancing happily with her smiling children – a little over a year before two of them escaped her captivity and told of an appalling regime of abuse. 

Yet the previous summer, Duncan was posting proud photos of her children – and the year before that, they were dancing together in TikToks.

In April 2020, Duncan posted this clip of five of her seven children performing a dance routine. The oldest set of twins appeared to be missing

In April 2020, Duncan posted this clip of five of her seven children performing a dance routine. The oldest set of twins appeared to be missing

Duncan posted this clip in April 2020, showing her dancing with two of her seven children

Duncan posted this clip in April 2020, showing her dancing with two of her seven children

The mom recorded herself dancing with the children to viral trends at the time – just months before the twisted reign of abuse started behind closed doors at their home. 

Duncan is known to be the mother of seven children: the 16-year-old twins, seven-year-old Nicholas Menina; 10-year-old Zayden Menina; another set of twins, 12-year-old boys Javion and Javier Menina; and 14-year-old Jarod Menina.

All seven are now in the care of child protection services.

The father of the children, Nicholas Menina, a photographer and media director for a Baptist Evangelical megachurch, who lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, told DailyMail.com he did not wish to comment. 

From December 2018 she was sporadically on Instagram, and posted 15 photos of herself with her children, cousins, sister and friends. 

‘I love spending time with my boys,’ she captioned one photo in April 2021, with four of her six sons sitting round a kitchen table, eating candy.

A month later, in May 2021, she posted a photo of her youngest son Nicholas graduating from Ideas Academy school.

‘Congratulations to my Baby Boy Nicholas On all his accomplishments this school year I’m so proud of you!’ she wrote. 

‘Second grade here he comes! Lol he is the tallest in his class!’

In July 2019 Duncan shared a photo of herself, striking a pose at an event

In July 2019 Duncan shared a photo of herself, striking a pose at an event

Duncan is currently listed as being in a Baton Rouge prison on charges of being a fugitive. Her boyfriend, Jova Terrell, who was also arrested, is being detained at an undisclosed location

Duncan is currently listed as being in a Baton Rouge prison on charges of being a fugitive. Her boyfriend, Jova Terrell, who was also arrested, is being detained at an undisclosed location

The two can be seen going door-to-door in their neighborhood trying to find someone to help for half an hour in the early morning hours Tuesday, with several neighbors, unsure what to make of the situation, telling the kids to keep moving

The two can be seen going door-to-door in their neighborhood trying to find someone to help for half an hour in the early morning hours Tuesday, with several neighbors, unsure what to make of the situation, telling the kids to keep moving

The 16-year-old girl, extremely thin, is seen with scars on her wrists from the handcuffs

The 16-year-old girl, extremely thin, is seen with scars on her wrists from the handcuffs 

Her twin brother also had deep cuts on his wrists from the handcuffs

Her twin brother also had deep cuts on his wrists from the handcuffs 

The kids showed the woman who found them that they had just broken free from being handcuffed by their mother

The kids showed the woman who found them that they had just broken free from being handcuffed by their mother

She shared several clips of the children dancing, and in June 2021 wrote: ‘Javion we are so proud of you… When your kid teacher hits you with this!

‘Javion was offer the opportunity to go to summer school since he was virtual the whole school year to prepare him for 5th grade and he wanted to go!’

Duncan joined TikTok in March 2020, and her first post was her dancing with two of the children, captioned: ‘Me and the kids Goofing Out’.

She posted 10 videos in total, with the final one in June 2020.

Every clip was of her joyful, dancing children – in April 2020, the video showed five of the children dancing, and was captioned: ‘Me and my Crew’.

The oldest set of twins did not seem to appear in any of her social media posts, and neither did her boyfriend, Jova Terell.

It is unclear when the pair began dating.

It also remains unclear when they moved to Texas, and why.

The children told the investigators they were subject to extreme beatings, with their mother using extension cords, curtain rods and other metal poles to hit them.

Her boyfriend, Terrell, often punched the 16-year-old boy.

The children, who were severely malnourished when they escaped on Tuesday, said they were starved and fed one to three times a week, surviving on sandwiches made of mustard, or relish or bologna.

The breakout was caught via Ring camera footage that saw the twins, who have not been named, run from their Houston home in the early hours of Tuesday in an attempt to get someone to call the police

The breakout was caught via Ring camera footage that saw the twins, who have not been named, run from their Houston home in the early hours of Tuesday in an attempt to get someone to call the police

The home, on Marina Alto Lane, had sold in late July and was valued between $552,001 and $627,000.

The home, on Marina Alto Lane, had sold in late July and was valued between $552,001 and $627,000.

Police are yet to confirm whether Duncan and her boyfriend had bought or rented the house

Police are yet to confirm whether Duncan and her boyfriend had bought or rented the house 

The four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home includes a formal living and dining room, covered patio, two-car attached garage and access to a community pool

The four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home includes a formal living and dining room, covered patio, two-car attached garage and access to a community pool

It is believed the family only moved into the Houston neighborhood this summer, living in an expansive home in a smart neighborhood.

The home, on Marina Alto Lane, had sold in late July and was valued between $552,001 and $627,000.

Police are yet to confirm whether Duncan and her boyfriend had bought or rented the house.

The four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home includes a formal living and dining room, covered patio, two-car attached garage and access to a well-kept community pool and waterpark.

Duncan had previously been accused of child abuse, 10 years ago in Louisiana.

A five-year-old child of hers was taken from school to a local hospital to be treated for burns to his feet, genitals, and other parts of his body.

Doctors determined it was likely the result of being burned by hot water. The boy also had bruises on his torso, back, hip and buttocks.

When police went to Duncan’s home, they found a 20-month-old child wrapped in clothing with his hands bound. The only other person in the home was the child’s 4-year-old brother, according to the documents.

Police said Duncan admitted to routinely disciplining one child by making him get into a push-up position for up to an hour, causing the child’s hands to swell.

The child was also forced to sleep on the closet floor, with the door of the closet blocked by boards to keep the child from ‘escaping’ and ‘stealing food from the kitchen,’ court records said.

Police reported at the time that two of Duncan’s other children also showed signs of abuse and were removed from the home. They said Duncan admitted she had been investigated for abuse of the children in the past.

She was charged with cruelty to juveniles, but the children were ultimately returned to her.



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