Five children in Barstow reported to police that they were tortured by their aunt and uncle in Rialto, and on Wednesday, the couple was arrested, according to the Rialto Police Department.

The alleged abuse was reported to Rialto police in January after it surfaced in an August 2021 investigation by the Barstow Police Department, Rialto police said in a news release.

The five minors, who range in age from 11 to 17, lived with their aunt and uncle in the 1000 block of East Jackson Street in Rialto for four years — 2017 to 2021 — during which time they were subjected to “various forms of physical abuse and torture including branding, strangulation, and being shot with pellet guns,” police said.

Once they moved to Barstow to live with a different relative last year, their new guardian reported the alleged abuse to Barstow police, which then contacted Rialto police, according to Cpl. Nic Parcher of the RPD.

Scarring and other physical evidence corroborated the children’s accounts, police added, and Jessica Salas-Ruiz, 26, and Fernando Inzunza, 36, were arrested on Wednesday.

Salas-Ruiz and Inzunza have been booked into the West Valley Detention Center on multiple counts of corporal punishment of a child, with Inzunza facing an additional charge of torture, police said.

Inzunza is being held in lieu of $750,000 and was due to appear in Rancho Superior Court on May 31, according to jail records.

Salas-Ruiz did not appear in a search of jail records, though police said her bail has also been set at $750,000.

Anyone with information about the couple or the children, including family members, friends, teachers and others, is asked to call Lt. James Mills at 909-820-2632.

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