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PHOENIX -- Three Tucson girls were rescued Tuesday morning after being held captive for as long as two years, and at least several months, city police believe.

Officers were called after two of the girls managed to escape to a neighbor's home, according to Tucson police Sgt. Chris Widmer. They claimed their stepfather had attempted to assault them with a knife.

Officers located the third girl in a bedroom in the home in the 2800 block of North Estrella Avenue, where they were responding to an domestic violence incident involving a knife.

The girls were 12, 13 and 17, respectively. All were dirty and claimed they hadn't bathed in four to six months.

"I can assure you we're doing everything we can to make sure these kids are kept safe," Gillooly said.

Police said the younger girls were kept in a separate room and had not seen the older sister in two years.

The mother and step-father of the girls were arrested and booked into Pima County Jail, according to a release by the City of Tucson's public information office.

The couple both face three counts of kidnapping, three counts of emotional abuse of a child and three counts of the physical abuse of a child while Mr. Richter faces an additional count of sexual abuse with a person under 15.

A resident who has lived in the neighborhood for about five years told the Arizona Daily Star that she didn't know anyone was living in the home, which is set back from the street.

The woman said there was no visible activity at the house, but other neighbors had told her that they had heard what sounded like children playing inside the house at night.

The Star reported that police removed plastic bags containing evidence from the home and what appeared to be a computer.

The investigation is still ongoing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tucson News Now

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