A Palmdale woman is accused of beating, torturing and starving two adopted children, authorities said Wednesday.
Ingrid Brewer, 50, was arrested on Jan. 16 and remains in custody in lieu of $2 million bail.
She has pleaded not guilty to two counts each of child abuse, torture, assault with a deadly weapon and battery with serious bodily injury and faces a Jan. 31 preliminary hearing at the Lancaster courthouse, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
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"This one just really shocked our conscience," said Sgt. Brian Hudson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Special Victims Bureau.
Hudson said Brewer had reported the two children, an 8-year-old boy and his 7-year-old sister, missing on Jan. 15.
Three hours later, deputies found them not far from Brewer's home, "huddled underneath a parked car, hiding underneath a blanket," Hudson said.
Temperatures were in the 20s and neither had winter clothes on, authorities said.
The siblings said they were hiding because they were tired of being beaten by Brewer.
The children showed investigators injuries that gave credence to the story they told: When Brewer left for work each day, she would allegedly lock them inside their separate bedrooms for 12 hours at a time. They were forced to use waste baskets in their rooms when they needed to go to the bathroom during the day.
As punishment, Brewer allegedly pulled their wrists behind their backs with zip-ties, authorities said. The children had marks on their wrists consistent with such treatment, authorities said.
The children also said they had been beaten, sometimes with an electrical cord and a hammer, according to authorities. They were also deprived of food, sheriff's department officials said.
Authorities said Brewer was cooperating with investigators, whom she had told the children were locked up because they had been stealing food.
A neighbor of Brewer -- who lived in Clearview Court, an area of fairly large, new homes -- who did not want to be identified told NBC4 said Brewer did not respond to greetings.
The charges stem from crimes that allegedly occurred between Oct. 31 and Jan. 15.
"We had two kids that thought they were in a loving home. That's where they thought they were headed when they were adopted," Hudson said "Unfortunately that turned out not to be the case."
Authorities said they were uncertain what agency approved the adoption of the children.
The children are now in protective custody with a foster family.