Couple Indicted in Alleged Abuse of their Children

Couple Indicted in Alleged Abuse of their Children

TEXARKANA, Texas — Indictments handed down in Bowie County accuse a couple of sexually abusing their daughter, physically abusing her and her brother and keeping them in "unsafe and unsanitary" living conditions.

A Bowie County grand jury issued multiple indictments for William Ashcraft and Mildred Malapelli who resided in a house on West 26th Street. The indictments accuse both of sexual abuse involving their daughter, who is currently 22 years old.

Malapelli allegedly failed to protect her daughter from Ashcraft's alleged sexual misconduct. Also alleged is that both Ashcraft and Malapelli are guilty of injury to a disabled person involving their daughter and their son. The indictments allege that Ashcraft's and Malapelli's daughter and son were kept in "unsafe and unsanitary" living conditions, that they weren't provided adequate nutrition or medical care, that their movements were restricted and that they were subjected to physical and/or sexual abuse.

The indictments accuse Ashcraft and Malapelli of injury to a disabled person by omission as well. A person can be guilty of a crime by omission if they are aware that a crime, such as child abuse, is occurring and do nothing to stop it when they have a duty to do so, as a parent does. Both Ashcraft and Malapelli face up to life in prison on some of the charges.

Both are currently being held in the Bowie County jail. Bails on the felony charges pending against Ashcraft and Malapelli total $900,000 apiece. Malapelli has additional bonds totaling $35,000 on misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and failure to identify. Ashcraft and Malapelli are both scheduled to appear for arraignment next month before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell.

Before a sizable group of local law enforcement convened at a house in the 700 block of West 26th Street in Texarkana, Texas, on May 4, concern for a 22-year-old woman's welfare was growing, according to probable cause affidavits filed in the cases of Ashcraft and Malapelli. The day before, the young woman met with members of the Texarkana, Arkansas, Police Department at Texarkana's downtown federal building. "(The alleged victim) told officers that she is kept and abused against her will. She also said that her 'supposed father' is a pervert," the affidavit states.

At that time, the Arkansas police officers learned that the woman had also communicated "distress" with a Texarkana, Texas, police officer via SnapChat. Officers dropped the woman off at a convenience store in the 2100 block of Texas Boulevard at her request. Officers from both the Texarkana, Arkansas, and Texarkana, Texas, police departments conducted an area search for the woman as a "welfare concern" the day after she was dropped off at the convenience store. Using videos in which she communicated distress to the Texas officer via SnapChat, officers zeroed in on the West 26th Street house.

William Ashcraft, 66, answered the door of the dilapidated wooden house and was allegedly suspicious of the officers. Eventually the young woman known to officers came out. "She was upset and she was concerned about her mother, brother and pet animals," the affidavit states. The woman, now 22, allegedly disclosed that Ashcraft sexually abused her from age 11 until 2017. The woman reported that she and her family have lived in the Texarkana house for five years. That means she was allegedly abused by Ashcraft while a teen living in Bowie County. Officers arrested Ashcraft for sexual assault.

Investigators interviewed and later arrested the woman's mother, Mildred Ann Malapelli, 65, as well. Malapelli allegedly told a Texarkana, Texas, detective that the family moved to Texarkana from Kentucky in the summer of 2016 to "avoid CPS (Child Protective Services) taking her children." The young woman told officers that she has "never" been to school or a doctor and that Ashcraft kept her from leaving the house. Malapelli allegedly admitted that her daughter told her Ashcraft was sexually abusing her but took no action.

Lynn LaRowe