WICHITA, Kan. – Police found two young girls in a basement Friday who were so emaciated that an officer compared them to Nazi death camp survivors.

Their two stepsiblings were upstairs with their mother, healthy and well fed.

Acting on a tip, state social workers stopped by the south Wichita house Friday to check on the welfare of the children. They then notified the police.

“It’s the worst case of malnutrition I’ve ever seen,” Lt. E.J. Bastian said.

The 6- and 7-year-old girls kept in the basement told police they ate whenever their dad was home.

But that wasn’t very often.

He was out of town on business this week and he would be gone next week, too – “so they were really hoping they could eat this weekend,” Bastian said.

The two girls were so thin “they looked like concentration-camp survivors,” he said.

The 4-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy belonging to the girls’ stepmother were obviously well cared for, Bastian said. The house had plenty of food, too.

Bastian said he was so angry at what he saw that he had to take a walk down the block to regain his composure.

The two emaciated children were taken to Wesley Medical Center for treatment and have been placed in the pediatric intensive care unit, Bastian said.

A doctor told police that it looked as though they hadn’t eaten in six days or had anything to drink in three – days on which the high temperatures hit 108, 108 and 109.

“This isn’t a six-day starvation,” the doctor told a police officer, Bastian said. “Obviously, these kids have been starved for quite a while.”

The two healthy children have been taken into protective custody and placed at the Wichita Children’s Home. The hospitalized children will join them there upon their release from the hospital.

The children’s stepmother has been taken in for questioning, Bastian said.

The father will be interrogated when he returns to Wichita.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.