Singing star Enrique Iglesias reached out on Christmas Eve to three Tucson sisters who police say were held captive and kept in filthy conditions for nearly two years by their mother and stepfather.
One of the girls, a 17-year-old, told detectives that she kept a portrait of Iglesias concealed in a keepsake satchel draped from her neck. The girl said the image was her most prized possession, and helped her deal psychologically with her living situation.
Through the help of the Tucson Police Department, Iglesias sent three autographed photographs to the teens with a special message to each of them, said Lt. Christian Wildblood, the department’s executive officer.
The sisters — ages 12, 13 and 17 — were given the photographs, which appear on Iglesias’ “I Like How It Feels” album cover.
Iglesias wrote a message of love and hope to each girl, Wildblood said.
When the sisters were presented with the gifts by a detective, they were described as initially in shock, an emotion which then turned to excitement and joy, said Wildblood.
Iglesias heard about the sisters last month after news reports that they were found malnourished, living in filthy conditions, fed sparingly and kept under constant video surveillance — subject to blaring music 24 hours a day.
Two days before Thanksgiving the two younger sisters escaped from their north-side home. The teens ran to a neighbor’s house around 4 a.m. pleading for help, and the neighbor called 911.
The girls told police that their stepfather broke into their bedroom and threatened them with a knife.
When police arrived, they found the eldest teen locked in a bedroom where she said she had been isolated and not allowed to see her sisters.
Their stepfather, Fernando Hernandez Richter, and their mother, Sophia Leeann Richter, were charged with kidnapping and child abuse, and remain in the Pima County jail.
Iglesias wanted to do something special for the sisters after hearing about their ordeal, Wildblood said.
He said the Police Department thanks Iglesias for his kind gesture and thoughtfulness, adding that this will be a “Christmas these girls will never forget.”