An emaciated woman with wounds across her body was found locked inside a storage shed after her brother and his girlfriend allegedly tortured her for months.
Authorities said it is unclear how long the 54-year-old dependent woman had been locked inside the shed in Lancaster, California but told the Los Angeles Times that she was abused for nearly a year.
Deputies went to the home last week to respond to reports of screaming. When they found the woman, she had both fresh and old wounds, and she appeared frail and malnourished, deputies said. Authorities say she may have been locked in the shed following a recent family dispute.
Her brother, 61-year-old Elias Abdurahman, and his girlfriend, 50-year-old Sara Kebede Tadesse, were arrested on September 22. They have been charged with false imprisonment by violence, torture, assault with a deadly weapon, and abuse of a dependent adult causing great bodily injury. It is not clear why the woman is considered a dependent.
In court documents authorities claim the couple tortured her "to cause cruel and extreme pain and suffering for the purpose of revenge, extortion, persuasion and for a sadistic purpose."
Sergeant Harold Morrow of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department told The Associated Press that the woman was a reluctant victim.
"That's what we're trying to get to the bottom of - how long has this been going on?" he said. "We're just trying to keep her cooperation and get to the story... We're still scratching our heads on the whole thing."
Neither of the defendants has yet been assigned an attorney. They are being held on $1.1 million bail and their arraignments have been set for October 20.
If convicted, Abdurahman and Tadesse face a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.
Watch Below: Mom Charged After Children Found Living in Crate at Underground Cave