Invisible Children

4 Children of Sylvia and Michael Wenger

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.

michael wenger
Four children—Richard Felsch (right), b. 1988; his twin sisters, b. 1987; and an unrelated boy, b. 1995—were imprisoned and physically and sexually abused by Sylvia and Michael Wenger (left), their adoptive parents. The children were homeschooled. It is unknown whether the Wengers’ biological children were also abused.

Three of the children were placed with the Wengers in 1996 after they were abused in their biological mother’s home. The fourth boy later joined them. At the Wengers’, the children were beaten with boards, “forced to stand in a corner for hours, locked into closets and force-fed for punishment.” The twin girls and the youngest boy were also repeatedly raped by Michael Wenger, who had begun dating his wife Sylvia when she was 14 and he was 21.

The abuse came to light in 2001 when one of the girls escaped and reported it to the authorities. The Wengers served 7 years in prison.

Date: 2001
Chewelah, Washington


Documents: Date:
Settlement Reached in child abuse case 2012-10-01
State to pay $5.3M to abused children 2012-10-02
DSHS agrees to pay former foster children $5.3 million 2012-10-02
CPS ineptitude plays large role in lives of two families 2012-10-12
Abuse within foster families systemic, hurts 2012-10-13
Children adopted by Sylvia and Michael Wenger