New details: Bryan father, stepmother accused of abusing twin girls
The investigation was launched after one of the girls died last week at her home.
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - A Bryan couple remains behind bars on multiple charges related to an ongoing child abuse investigation that one police officer described as one of the worst he’s ever seen.
Last week, Arianna Rose Battelle, 6, died at her home in the 700 block of Garden Acres.
Bryan police say both she and her twin sister were repeatedly injured by their father, Justin Joel Hopper, 28, and their stepmother, Jessica Bundren, 40, who reportedly used a belt and homemade wooden paddle to punish the children.
Police say Arianna died inside her home on the night of Tuesday, October 27, after Bundren admitted to striking the child with a belt for wetting the bed.
Police said Arianna had contusions over both eyes that extended to her cheeks as well as red contusions on her forehead and side of her head and torso. Investigators say the marks appeared to be welts from a belt along with small puncture marks on the child’s body. Both her legs were also bruised.
After searching the home, authorities say they found a belt that had a slit on the end with metal rivets. They say the belt’s features matched the injuries on the girl.
During their investigation, police spoke with Arianna’s twin sister, who also showed signs of physical abuse. According to the report, the unnamed child “appeared to be in pain and moved with difficulty. She had a black eye on her left eye and a scab on the left side of her neck.”
She also had two broken fingers from when her father used a wooden paddle to strike her hand, according to an arrest report.
In a probable cause affidavit, police said the surviving twin described how she and her sister would be punished if they didn’t eat her lunch fast enough. The child said Bundren and Hopper would use a belt and paddle for the punishment, and Bundren would slap her in the face.
According to Bryan police, Hopper tried to say he knew nothing about the abuse but a search of his cell phone revealed photos and text messages between the couple that showed both were aware of the children’s injuries.
Police said some of the images on the phone were sent to Hopper mainly while he was away from the house, to show him that the girls were being uncooperative with Bundren, especially during mealtime and homework time.
“He knew about the marks and abuse because he was updated, almost daily, with photos of the girls,” said police in their report.
Hopper and Bundren are both charged with two counts of injury to a child. Both their bonds are set at $250,000. It’s possible their charges could be enhanced as the investigation continues and is presented to the district attorney’s office for review.
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