James Murphy
James Murphy

Five Springettsbury Township siblings endured beatings, broken bones, forced intoxication, a lack of food and other horrors at the hands of their parents, according to allegations in charging documents.

James Murphy, 40, and Roxanne Murphy, 38, of 2610 Mount Zion Road, remain in prison on $250,000 bail each, awaiting trial in York County Court.

Their four minor children -- who are 9, 12, 14 and 16 years old -- are safe, Springettsbury Township Police Lt. Dan Stump said. A fifth son, age 19, is an adult but lived with the family, documents state.

Officers were called to the Murphy home Dec. 21 by one of the sons and found all five siblings drunk, the house filthy and a .30-30 Winchester rifle lying on the floor, police said.

Roxanne Murphy
Roxanne Murphy
The rifle was on the floor because one of the siblings was contemplating suicide, charging documents state.

The officers immediately summoned caseworkers from the county's Office of Children, Youth and Families, who took the juveniles into protective custody, Stump said. They have remained in protective custody since, he said.

"It's absolutely disgusting," Stump said of the parents' alleged conduct. "It's not something we see to this extent very often. It's very disheartening to see children raised in this situation."

Five-month probe: Initially, police filed child-endangerment and related charges against Roxanne Murphy, but withdrew them to allow for further investigation, which led to charges being filed against both parents on May 23, according to the lieutenant.

The night of Dec. 21, the children told officers their parents wanted them to get drunk and pass out so the parents could leave the home and celebrate Yule, police said. Yule is a pagan midwinter holiday.

The children were taken to Memorial Hospital, where it was determined the four juveniles had very high levels of alcohol in their system, documents state.

The 9-year-old's blood-alcohol level was 0.87 percent, according to documents. In Pennsylvania, an adult is driving drunk at 0.08 percent.

Moved around: The children told investigators that when they would try to tell someone about what they were enduring at home, their parents would move the entire family, including from West Virginia to Maryland to York County, according to documents, which state they lived in Springettsbury Township for about nine months.

The children also said their parents forced them to drink alcohol and encouraged them to take sleeping pills, documents state.

They recounted beatings at the hands of both parents, and more than one sibling told police James Murphy would kick them. A 12-year-old daughter was "screaming in pain" when officers were at the house, and she told police her father had broken her ribs by kicking her repeatedly, documents allege.

Kids hungry: One sibling said they were always hungry and sometimes "stole" food, such as ramen noodles, that "belonged" to their parents. The children would get beaten for taking the food, police allege.

A 9-year-old daughter told officers there was "no food at home pretty much every day."

Roxanne Murphy also hit her children, police allege, and caused bruising on her 14-year-old son's face, documents state.

The 14-year-old recounted that his father threatened to kill him if he ever told anyone what was going on in the home, according to documents.

One sibling recounted being locked in his room for six months, unable to attend school or even use the bathroom, police allege. He told officers his parents gave him a bucket to use instead, documents state.

Pet tortured? One sibling recounted James Murphy torturing a pet rabbit by shooting it repeatedly with a BB gun over a two-hour period, then shooting it the next morning with an arrow, according to charging documents, which state the father cooked the rabbit and made his children eat it.

The kids also led officers to James Murphy's stash of child pornography, which was seized, according to documents. A 16-year-old daughter told officers her father has a "fetish" for child porn, police said.

Police found sex toys around the house, and one sibling told officers James Murphy instructed him to "lube it up" and stick it between his brother's "butt cheeks" while the brother was passed-out drunk, documents allege.

One son told police his father tried to burn off his penis with a hot knife, documents state.

Roxanne Murphy initially told officers her children are liars, but stopped talking and immediately asked for an attorney when officers asked her about whether she allowed her children to take her sleeping pills, documents state.

Home 'filthy': Police described the Murphy home as "extremely filthy" with a "strong odor" that made breathing difficult, and said there were animals in every room, including numerous snakes, lizards, rats, rabbits, birds, a dog, a cat and a pot-bellied pig.

At one point, one of the siblings was beaten for not properly caring for the 50 snakes in the home, documents allege.

James Murphy is charged with eight counts of child endangerment, five counts of furnishing alcohol to minors, nine counts of possessing child pornography, aggravated assault and other offenses.

Roxanne Murphy is charged with eight counts of child endangerment, four counts of attempted simple assault and one count of unlawful restraint.

-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com.