Nineteen children were starved, tortured, and imprisoned by their father, Mansa Musa Muhummed. Muhummed’s three wives—Marva Barfield, Laura Cowan, and Adrienne Easter—were also sexually assaulted, beaten, and imprisoned; Barfield participated in the children’s abuse at Muhummed’s instruction, and Cowan has also been accused of participating in the abuse. The children included Delmarcus (b. 1974), Marlon (b. 1980), Sharon (b. 1981; pictured), Michael (b. 1982), Curtis (b. 1983), C. (b. 1989), Felicia, and Tiffany Boddie (Muhummed’s children with Barfield; 14 in total); Ahmed (b. 1992) and Maryam (b. 1994) (Cowan’s children from a previous marriage), a daughter born to Cowan and Muhummed; and Abdullah and Jada (Easter’s children). The children were homeschooled.
Muhummed and Barfield married in 1973 in Virginia; they had 12 children when they moved to California in 1985. Two more were born shortly thereafter. In 1988, when Sharon was in second grade, she was removed from school to be homeschooled “because she kept running away and teachers no longer wanted her there because she stole other children’s lunches.” Some of the younger children were never sent to school at all. When she was rescued at age 18, Sharon couldn’t read. In 1995, Muhummed married Cowan and added her children to the family. In 1998, he married Easter and added her children to the family. The family moved several times within California.
Muhummed starved the children for days at a time and forced them to eat their own vomit and feces when they “stole” food. He kept locks on the refrigerator and cabinets. He beat them, forced them to beat each other, smashed their toes with a hammer, and hung them upside down. He forced them to stand naked in cold water for hours and denied them use of a bathroom for weeks. He imprisoned Cowan, Easter, and their children in the garage. When the children were injured, Muhummed denied them medical attention. Marlon Boddie “said he once smashed a bottle against his head in order to get sent to a hospital and out of the house.” “When police found Sharon Boddie in 1999, she was 18 years old, weighed 48 pounds and stood barely 4 feet tall. Her older brother Marlon weighed 53 pounds. Another brother, Curtis, 16, weighed 42 pounds.”
In early 1999, a social worker spoke to the children, but they were frightened of Muhummed and did not disclose the abuse. The abuse finally came to light when Cowan slipped a note about the abuse to a postal worker, who alerted the authorities. Barfield pleaded guilty to child endangerment in a deal to testify against Muhummed. She served 17 months in prison. “At least two of [Muhummed’s] older daughters and one wife became involved in polygamous marriages again.” Muhummed was sentenced to life in prison.
Date: April 6, 1999
Location: Aguanga, California