A Lebanon County woman who police say systematically abused and tortured her five children pleaded guilty to all charges against her on Wednesday.
Stephanie Duncan, who graduated from Manheim Central High School in 1996, entered an open plea, meaning there is no plea agreement for the length of her sentence, PennLive reports. She faces a maximum sentence of 288 years in prison and up to $65,000 in fines.
She will be sentenced on Dec. 22.
Her husband, Robert Duncan, was sentenced last week, according to PennLive. He will serve six to 30 years in prison.
Stephanie Angelette Duncan (whose maiden name was Witman), 42, and Robert Duncan, 44, were charged in January after their 11-year-old boy was rushed to Hershey Medical Center on Jan. 12. The boy was found unresponsive and hypothermic and had bruises covering his body, according to the Lebanon County District Attorney's office.
Investigators later learned he was forced to sleep on a cold, concrete floor in an empty room that was locked from the outside, wearing only a diaper.
The boy was one of five children who were adopted and subjected to the Duncans' abuse, Lebanon County district attorney Pier Hess Graf said after charges were filed, adding that the 11-year-old was abused the worst. Stephanie Duncan was the primary abuser, the children told investigators.
The children told investigators the Duncans had video cameras installed in every room and would monitor the footage day and night, according to the district attorney's office. The children would be punished for things like sleeping in a position the Duncans deemed inappropriate and would be made to run in place for hours.
When Stephanie Duncan found the boy unresponsive in his room on Jan. 12, she smacked him, grabbed him by his neck and dragged him up the stairs to a bathroom, according to the district attorney’s office. She forced him into the shower, but he was unable to stand, the district attorney’s office said. She tried to force him to eat, but he vomited.
PennLive reported that the children told investigators that the 11-year-old was rarely let out of his room and was given very little food and water. His food was mostly peanut butter, oatmeal and carrots. The boy was given less than a bottle of water a day, according to the report, sometimes being made to drink the cat's water.
While locked in the room, the boy was often forced to urinate in the room, the district attorney’s office said. Afterward, the Duncans forced him to clean it with bleach and then run in place as the bleach dried.
The boy would go for days at a time without water – one time when he was caught “stealing” water from the sink, Robert Duncan choked him until he “fell over and gasped for air multiple times,” the district attorney’s office said.
The Duncans "created a household of unspeakable fear, violence, torment, and abuse," Hess Graf said.
Hess Graf said the Duncans also regularly punched and strangled the four boys, the children told interviewers. The youngest child, a 6-year-old girl, was often smacked in the mouth.
The children said that while the three oldest were abused the most, the 11-year-old was their first target and suffered nearly daily abuse, the district attorney’s office said.