Police: Hillsboro woman underfed children, forced them to wear urine-soaked clothes

Merlinda Avalos mug shot courtesy Washington County Jail

HILLSBORO, Ore. – A Hillsboro woman is facing criminal mistreatment charges after police say she forced children to use a urine jug instead of a toilet, underfed them and forced them to wear urine-soaked clothing to school.

The Hillsboro Police Department says Merlinda M. Avalos, 49, was arrested Thursday on 12 counts of first-degree criminal mistreatment and one count of tampering with evidence.

Avalos has acted as the guardian of several children, who are relatives of her, since 2012.

Investigators say she forced them all to sleep in the same room. They were not allowed to use the restroom at night and were instead forced to use a urine jug.

Police say the children were only allowed to eat twice a day – a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast and one for dinner. The children could only shower one day a week and they were forced to wear urine-soaked clothing to school.

If the victims made any noise or got off their beds, they would be beaten with any instrument or object that was available to Avalos, police said.

The children were not allowed to watch TV, read books, or go out to play.

Police say Avalos is also an elderly caregiver.

They’re asking any other victims to contact the Hillsboro Police Department at (503) 681-6175.

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