BAPTIST MINISTER CONVICTED OF ABUSE
The Reverend Joseph Combs, a Baptist minister and his wife, Evangeline, were convicted of abusing a girl they took from an orphanage and raised as the family servant. They were also convicted of kidnapping, among other charges. The girl, Esther Combs, was taken as a baby from an Indiana orphanage in 1978, she was considered kidnapped because the couple took her with the pretense to adopt her, but never did. Esther, now 22 and living in another state under a different name, testified that Mrs. Combs beat her with baseball bats, burned her with a curling iron and pulled out chunks of her flesh with pliers causing more than 400 scars on her body. The two will be sentenced April 25th. Combs faces up to 144 years in prison and his wife up to 73. The two decades of brutal abuse was hidden until Esther was hospitalized in February 1997 after trying to kill herself by drinking antifreeze. Doctors found layers of scars on her body and fractures that had not healed properly, according to authorities.