MARICOPA, AZ — Police are accusing a Maricopa mother of torturing her seven adopted children.
The kids, ranging in age from three to 15, told officers they were starved, pepper sprayed and locked in a closet for days. Authorities said all seven kids are now back in Department of Child Safety custody.
The question everyone is now asking is: how could this alleged abuse have happened? Especially to kids who were placed in Machelle Hobson’s home as foster kids before being adopted.
Adoption experts and the Arizona Department of Child Safety said the mother knew the system well and may have exploited it to avoid detection.
“I think this mother was a master manipulator,” said Torrie Taj, CEO of Child Crisis Arizona.
Police said Machelle Hobson had the world fooled with YouTube videos showing happy and healthy kids.
“Investigations will be done and this case will be looked at. And everyone will try their best to figure out what went wrong and how can we prevent it from happening in the future,” said Taj. “Somehow there are a lot of people who missed a lot of things.”
Taj says Hobson had to have fooled dozens of people charged with protecting the vulnerable kids. “The judge has to sign off on each one of these children that she is going to adopt. She had to have gone through a 12-week training, at least, to be certified to foster then adopt. So there were multiple home visits, case management sessions."
Police say Hobson initially fostered the children.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) told ABC15 there are always monthly home visits during fostering, but that stopped when Hobson adopted all seven kids.
“When they are adopted, they are not part of the child welfare system anymore and those checks aren't in place,” said Taj.
Ultimately, it was Hobson’s older biological daughter who called the police.
Hobson’s successful YouTube channel has now been taken down and her adopted kids have been taken away.
And the seven boys and girls are yet again looking for a new home and mother. “It’s really unfortunate, these poor children have been traumatized and re-traumatized,” said Taj.
Maricopa police say they were called to Hobson’s home in 2017 to look for a child that was running around the neighborhood naked. The details of that incident are unknown, but the child was returned to the home.
Hobson is divorced. In court paperwork from 2011, her ex-husband alleges she pulled her older biological daughter out of school to help care for the foster kids.