The 89-year-old woman who came across a 5-year-old Twin Falls girl following that girl’s sexual assault has told her story to Statesman partner KIVI 6 On Your Side.
In a report aired Wednesday night, the woman identified as “Grandma Jo” talks about noticing a young boy shooting photos outside of the Fawnbrook Apartments’ laundry room.
“I just opened the door, and there they were. A little girl, with no clothes on and two little boys,” the woman told 6 On Your Side. “I told those boys to get your clothes on right this minute, and if I were your mama, I would spank your little butts. And the little girl was saying, ‘Please grandma help me, please grandma help me,’ so I went over there. When I got over to her and picked her up, I realized in her hair and all over her body and her clothes they had urinated all over them. It was terrible.”
Word of the incident spread, somehow turning into reports posted across the Internet this weekend that Syrian refugee boys had raped a young girl at knifepoint. The case involves juveniles and thus is mostly sealed from public disclosure. But police and prosecutors provided some details to refute the rumors, including that no rape happened and no knife was involved. The boys were not from Syria, but rather Sudan and Iraq; they are recently in this country but authorities haven’t been given any indication they came here as refugees and they were not resettled through an Idaho refugee program.
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“Grandma Jo” said she kept the children in the laundry room until police arrived. She questioned one part of the police response, when an officer let the children return to their homes, and described the girl coming to visit her later on to thank her.
“They are just little boys, yes, but little boys shouldn’t do those things,” she told 6 On Your Side. “And I would say people get mad at me for telling you the story, well you just tell him if you were an old lady, and you found something like that what would you have done?”
Thursday, the case has also caught the attention of the Washington Post. Among other topics, writers Peter Holley and Sarah Larimer talked to Twin Falls Police Chief Craig Kingsbury — until recently, the police chief in Nampa — about the effect rumors and misinformation have on investigating and prosecuting the girl’s sexual assault. You can read its coverage here.
The apartment complex has evicted the families of the boys implicated in the assault, reports the Twin Falls Times-News. Jeffrey Passadore, president of Cambridge Real Estate Services, in a letter to tenants also urged people to support the victim’s family and to “focus on bringing about the positive changes necessary so that we might all contribute to a stronger community for our shared future.”
The three boys are ages 7, 10, and 14. The two older boys were taken into custody late last week.