Crime & Courts

Anchorage parents kept daughters in squalid basement for years, charges say

An Anchorage couple forced their two teenage daughters to live in the basement of a squalid East Anchorage home and held them out of school for years, according to prosecutors. The girls ran away and told authorities, and the parents are now being charged with child neglect.

The girls, then ages 16 and 17, were discovered when they showed up at the Covenant House youth shelter near downtown Anchorage on Christmas Eve 2015. Someone called the police.

They were trying to get to Wasilla, to "get help from anyone," Anchorage police Detective Will Cameron later wrote in a charging document.

Neither had ever been to public school, police learned in interviews and by contacting the Anchorage School District. A police investigator executing a search warrant concluded that they slept on a mattress beneath the staircase in the basement of the house, which lacked heat, power and water. He reported that the rest of the house was buried in garbage.

The parents, Patricia and Timothy Hogan, each face misdemeanor charges of child neglect and contributing to the delinquency of a minor that were brought by the city prosecutor's office. Police said they themselves lived in a camper parked in the yard of the home.

Patricia's last name in the charges was also given as Haugstad, a name she used when the couple lived in Eagle River with their two daughters before they moved to Anchorage, according to public records. The records show the couple first started applying for Permanent Fund dividends using an Eagle River address in 1993. Patricia Hogan purchased the East Anchorage home in 1997, the records show.

[Follow-up: Prosecutors say Anchorage neglect case didn't meet felony threshold]

Approached Tuesday next to the camper, Patricia Hogan declined to comment.

"We don't have anything to say," said Hogan, who was wearing a zip-up jacket, Grinch-themed sweatpants and bright-green Crocs.

But, she added: "Everybody that we're working with has just been professional. It's a bunch of heartache."

When first interviewed by police in December at Covenant House, the girls didn't know their exact address. But they told police their home didn't have power, water or heat, and described the living conditions as "horrible," Cameron wrote.

Several hours later, police arrived at the home on Vadla Way, a cul-de-sac in a wooded part of Anchorage near Baxter Road. The four-bedroom Hogan residence is valued by the city at more than $400,000.

Police said they talked to Patricia Hogan, who told them she had no idea the daughters weren't home, Cameron wrote, and "when asked she assumed they were in the basement."

Officers saw the house had garbage around it, no power, no gas. The windows appeared to be iced over, Cameron wrote.

Hogan wouldn't let the police inside. She told the officers that her daughters weren't in school, and that they lived in the basement of the house, which was heated only by kerosene. She didn't seem to be concerned about the living conditions in the home or the fact that her daughters had tried to run away to Wasilla, Cameron wrote.

A month later, the sisters were taken by the Office of Children's Services to a Providence outpatient clinic that conducts sexual and physical abuse evaluations for children.

Investigators learned the girls had never been to public school. Anchorage School District had no records of either girl in their system. They'd had very little home schooling from their mother, Patricia, Cameron wrote, and any schooling had been "sporadic and inconsistent."

Neither had been to a dentist or a doctor in several years. The Office of Children's Services couldn't find Social Security numbers for the girls.

The girls said "that they have no opportunity to meet friends, socialize or contact outside family members within the Anchorage area," Cameron wrote. "They felt as if they were trapped inside their residence and not free to leave their home."

One of the girls guessed they had been living in the basement for about five years. They said there hadn't been heat or power since May 2015.

Cameron wrote that during his interview the girls appeared to have been affected by their isolation and lacked "cognitive ability" for their ages.

A guardian appointed for the girls, unnamed in the documents, concluded that a pattern of isolation and unsanitary conditions put them at high risk for life-threatening or severe medical conditions.

Police obtained a search warrant Jan. 27, about a week after the interview. Officers entered the Vadla Way house to document the living conditions.

In the charging document, Cameron reported "complete filth" on the inside, with garbage and junk scattered throughout the house, nearly covering the floor and the ceiling. Small footpaths were carved through the trash. A strong odor of old trash and rotting food emanated from the floor of the living room, Cameron wrote.

In the kitchen, the stovetop had one burner that appeared to be used for cooking food, Cameron wrote. The rest were covered in filth, he said. The ceiling had an "unknown yellow mold growing across it." Meat and other food sat out on countertops, unrefrigerated, Cameron said.

Upstairs, three bedrooms were completely filled with trash, Cameron wrote. He also saw several garbage bags filled with human waste from honey buckets. Black mold grew on the ceilings, walls and corners of each room, Cameron wrote. There was no heat or power.

It was completely dark in the basement downstairs, Cameron wrote, and the smell of kerosene from a heater was overpowering. There were items scattered about, but not nearly the amount seen on the upper floors, Cameron said. In one of the basement rooms, Cameron saw a drain in the floor and a hose coming from a faucet in the wall.

"It was obvious to me that this is where (the sisters) bathed," Cameron wrote.

He noted a "small makeshift room" under the staircase and a mattress on the floor, and that's where, it appeared, the girls slept.

On March 1, an arrest warrant was issued for Timothy and Patricia Hogan. Each posted $1,000 bail the next day.

The couple is scheduled to appear in court for a pretrial conference on May 16. Neither had any prior criminal history.

Timothy Hogan wasn't at the house. A spokeswoman for the Anchorage Police Department said she couldn't comment Tuesday evening. Authorities weren't available to explain the two-month delay between the time the daughters left home and when the charges were filed March 1.

Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly was an ADN staff reporter.