YAKIMA, Wash. — A Yakima couple accused of locking their 15-year-old daughter in the bathroom for several days have been charged with unlawful imprisonment, a Class C felony.
Depending on their criminal history, if any, Antonio Ceja Jr., 33, and Meriah Ceja, 30, face from one month in jail to 5½ years in prison if convicted as charged.
The Cejas were arrested Tuesday after their daughter told police she had been held against her will for several days in a windowless bathroom at the family’s home on West Prasch Avenue.
The girl reported that she tore up a section of bathroom flooring in order to crawl underneath the house and escape, police said. She walked from her home to her nearby grandmother’s house, where police were called.
Her mother and stepfather were arrested after they arrived while officers were at the grandmother’s home. They have since been released from jail on bail.
Capt. Rod Light also said the girl had injuries consistent with claims she had been struck with a broom or stick and having been left alone in a small bathroom for two and a half days.
Gary Hintze, the deputy prosecutor handling the case, said Friday that detectives told him the girl’s parents were possibly upset about a boy their daughter was interested in.
Regardless of the cause, Hintze said the actions the girl’s parents allegedly went far beyond more common restrictions on children.
“They’re not the first set of parents who become concerned about their daughter,” he said. “However, locking someone into what amounts to a cage or cell, feeding them in there and making them sleep in the tub, that’s not how you handle things.
“It’s especially illegal to lock someone in a room and then leave the premises. Illegal and dangerous.”
It was not immediately clear if the Cejas have attorneys. Antonio Ceja was released Thursday after posting $50,000 bail. His wife was released on $15,000 bail.
Two minor children from their home were placed with other relatives as a result of the investigation, police said. The 15-year-old was taken to a separate location.