Woman charged with keeping kids as slaves

Sept. 1, 2009 at 1:38 PM
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CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 1 (UPI) -- A woman charged with keeping three children as slaves allegedly beat them and fed them caffeine so they could work harder, North Carolina officials said.

Mercedes Farquharson, 63, appeared before a federal magistrate Monday in Charlotte, N.C., after being extradited from Bulgaria on federal charges of child abuse, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer said.

Farquharson legally adopted one of the children and allegedly persuaded the mother of the two other children to let them live with her by telling her that she was a god, a federal indictment said. Farquharson and the three children are British nationals.

The children were 2, 11, and 7 years of age when they went to live with Farquharson in Marbella, Spain, in 1992, prosecutors said. In 2001, Farquharson moved them to Monroe, N.C., where they lived until 2005. Farquharson was indicted in 2006.

Farquharson allegedly beat the children and forced them to ingest caffeine so they could work from before dawn until after midnight cooking, cleaning, gardening and caring for nearly 100 chickens, prosecutors said.

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