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Three girls' aunt: Hard to enjoy Thanksgiving

Michelle Pulido's nieces say they were held captive by their parents in their midtown home. Michelle Pulido's nieces say they were held captive by their parents in their midtown home.
Fernando and Sophia Richter (Source: Tucson Police Department) Fernando and Sophia Richter (Source: Tucson Police Department)
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A Tucson woman whose sister and brother-in-law face kidnapping and child abuse charges for allegedly holding her nieces captive says the holiday has been difficult for her family.

"It was hard to enjoy Thanksgiving yesterday," said Michelle Pulido, the sister of Sophia Richter who is in jail with her husband Fernando Richter, the girls' stepfather.  Both were arrested this week after two of the girls escaped to a neighbor's house.

Pulido saw her sister in jail on Tuesday, but has not seen or spoken to her since.

"We are speaking out because we want you to know we love my sister," Pulido said.

When Pulido saw Richter this week she said she "looks like Sophia, but when she talks, it is not her."  Pulido described her sister today as "very detached" and "no longer the same person" with whom she grew up.

Pulido said she and her family have not been able to see their nieces, aged 12, 13, and 17.

"I can't wait to hug them, to buy them clothes, to do normal things with them," she said.

Based on what authorities have told Pulido, she said she believes the girls are being "very well taken care of. They are together," Pulido said.

The Richters each face three counts of kidnapping, child abuse-emotional and child abuse-physical abuse. 

Fernando Richter is facing an additional charge of sexual abuse with a person under 15 years of age, according to TPD.

On Wednesday a judge set bond for Fernando Richter at $100,000 and for Sophia Richter at $75,000.

Their next court appearance has been scheduled for Dec. 9.

According to police, the girls said Sophia and Fernando Richter had held them captive for up to two years.

Police say the girls appeared malnourished and extremely dirty when police first made contact with them.  The girls also told police they had not bathed in four to six months. 

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