Police chief says 'system broke' in abuse case

Posted at 10:28 AM, Feb 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-22 11:29:43-05

A Kansas police chief investigating the alleged abuse of three adopted Peruvian children by their parents said "somewhere, some time, the system broke down."

North Newton police chief Randy Jordan said numerous reports of suspected abuse concerning the children were filed with the Kansas Department of Children and Families since 2014, but none were forwarded to his department for further investigation, The Wichita Eagle reported. He said it also doesn't appear that anyone who suspected the abuse contacted law enforcement directly, either.

The children's parents, Jim and Paige Nachtigal, each were charged last week with three counts of child abuse. They remained jailed Monday in Harvey County, each on a $300,000 bond. Authorities said last week that they didn't know if the couple had an attorney, and a jail official said Monday that was still the case.

State welfare officials have declined to talk about the case. DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed said that, speaking generally, the agency works closely with law enforcement to ensure a child's safety when concerns are raised.

Authorities say the children -- an 11-year-old boy, an 11-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl -- were severely malnourished, had broken bones and had been beaten. Doctors who examined them diagnosed it as child torture.

"There's accountability all over the place," Jordan said. "And somewhere, some time, the system broke down. We're trying to find out how and why."

Authorities began an investigation after the parents reported the 11-year-old son missing on Feb. 5. He was found later that day by a Kansas Highway Patrol Officer walking barefoot in a field, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton has said. The boy told the officer he hadn't done his homework and had "sinned" so he was afraid to go home. The boy did not tell the officer about any abuse at the time, and he was returned home.

But six days later, the children were placed in protective custody.

Police plan to spend the coming days tracking down and interviewing the people involved in various stages of the Nachtigals' adoption process, as well as those who made welfare reports about the family to DCF.

Jordan says one possible source of information in the case will be post-adoptions reports. Health and welfare updates are among a host of strict requirements from Peru's government in international adoptions.

"I'm hoping that several people were interviewed or talked with about how that adoption was going and how those kids were doing and that kind of thing," Jordan said.