Invisible Children

Son of Christopher and Trina Pope, and 8 siblings

Content note: Case narratives include descriptions of severe violence inflicted on children, including abuse and neglect, sexual violence, torture, and murder, as well as mentions of suicide and domestic violence. They also include photos of victims and perpetrators of violence.

An 8-year-old boy was starved and chained to a bed for a year by his parents, Christopher Shawn Pope and Trina Pope. The boy’s grandmother, Wanda Zavala, knew about the abuse but did nothing because she believed he “was possessed with evil spirits.” The boy’s 7 siblings (ages 10, 9, 6, 4, 3, 20 months and 8 months; Trina Pope was pregnant with her 9th child) were not similarly abused. The boy had previously attended school, “but his father had withdrawn him because of what the father contended were discipline problems and he was being home-schooled.”

The boy was not released even to use the bathroom, and by the time he was found chained to the bed rail the soiled mattress had been removed and he was sleeping on the floor. He also “had some injuries on him,” according to police. The boy weighed 51 lbs. when he was rescued after child services received a tip in April 1999. The other children were not removed until July when the Popes were finally arrested—the police had tried for three months to speak with the other children, but “the parents would not let them speak with police.” Social services had previously been called to the house in May 1997 when the Popes left their children at home to go see a movie.

Christopher and Trina Pope were found guilty of child endangerment and sentenced to 18 months and one year in prison, respectively. Zavala was charged with a misdemeanor.

Date: April 12, 1999
Pasadena, Texas

Documents: Date:
Chaining boy to bed is alleged 07-09-1999
Parents charged with chaining one of their 8 children 07-11-1999
Woman faces charges in abuse of grandson 08-05-1999
Couple sentenced in chaining of 8-year-old son 10-05-1999