CEDAR CREST, NM (KRQE) – A mother and step-father are behind bars after being accused of abusing two of their children. The allegations are both bizarre and disturbing.

Aaron and Damie Brooks were in front of a judge on Tuesday facing multiple counts of child abuse. The couple was arrested Monday night in their East Mountain home after a five-month investigation found they allegedly abused and neglected their children.

According to the criminal complaint, the children were eating out of trash cans and were forced to stand outside in the cold without proper clothing.  

Detective Ross Daugherty is with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department Safe Child Unit, which conducted the investigation into the parents and what was going on in their Cedar Crest home.

According to the criminal complaint, Daugherty and his team were contacted by family members and even staff from the children’s schools that the 11-year-old girl and the 9-year-old boy looked malnourished and were so hungry they would eat out of the trash at school.

According to investigators, they found the home’s pantry and refrigerator were secured shut and had security cameras set up to prevent the children from getting food. Doctors also found the children were extremely malnourished, while Aaron’s biological child was at a healthy weight.

“One of them actually weighed less than their younger brother,” said Daugherty. “There was an age difference of four years, and the younger child actually weighed more.”  

The criminal complaint also states the mom and stepdad would not allow the children to sit on furniture in the house, and were forced to stand at attention for hours at a time and sit outside in the cold without proper clothing.

Daugherty said the children are in better shape now and are currently with a foster family.

Aaron Brooks will be held behind bars before his trial date. While Damie was released with supervision. She is not allowed to come in contact with her older children.