UPDATE: Bond denied in Henrico hot iron abuse case

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – Bond was denied Thursday for a Henrico woman facing accusations of using a hot iron to punish her twin girls.

Berneatha C. Terrell, 40, is being held in the Henrico County Jail. She's accused of two counts of malicious assault, after police say she caused permanent scarring on each of her 16-year-old daughters.

Police say the crimes date back to last October, and went several months before anyone noticed what was happening. All this time, police say the girls were forced to conceal a painful secret.

"There's evidence, or pictures that were taken of multiple burns, scars, so severe that you can actually see the imprint of the iron to include the steam holes at the bottom of the iron," said Henrico Police Lt. Eric Owens.

Police say the wounds were a form of punishment, and were noticed on the girls' arms, chests, and inner thighs. Nobody, not even friends or teachers, saw the skin damage for several months.

"They were instructed by their mother to wear makeup to conceal those scars," Owens said.

It was only this week that Child Protective Services got a tip, and then confronted Terrell and the girls at their Eastern Henrico home. Police say the girls were so uncomfortable talking in front of their mother, that investigators decided to interview them the next day at school.

That's when police say investigators saw the unmistakable mark of an iron, burned into the girls' skin. An alleged act that authorities say crosses the line...

"I don't think it's possible to do anything to deserve being burned with an iron," Owens said.

...and could've been prevented.

"I'm sure there was some screaming. I'm sure there was some yelling," Owens said, adding, "This probably could've been discovered a lot sooner than yesterday if someone who had possibly heard this would've made the phone call [to police]."

The daughters have been well enough to attend school, but other than that, police couldn't say how they're doing. They're currently in the custody of their grandfather, Terrell's father.

Berneatha Terrell is scheduled for a preliminary hearing March 28.

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