Crime & Courts

North Newton couple arrested; adopted children from Peru in protective custody

Paige Nachtigal
Paige Nachtigal Courtesy of Harvey County Jail

A North Newton couple was arrested on Tuesday in Harvey County, accused of abuse and child endangerment in connection with three children they adopted from Peru.

The children, ages 11, 11 and 15, are now in police protective custody, according to a statement issued by Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton.

Concerns about the treatment of the children prompted an examination at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. The 11-year-olds, a boy and a girl, were found to be “severely malnourished” and had multiple bruises, Walton said.

There was also evidence of current broken bones and past broken bones that have healed, Walton said.

The adoptive parents, identified by authorities as Jim and Paige Nachtigal, were arrested following a child-in-need-of-care hearing at the Harvey County Courthouse. They were booked into jail on suspicion of child abuse, aggravated child endangerment and aggravated battery, Walton said. Jim Nachtigal has been chief executive officer at Kansas Christian Home in Newton for the past 10 years.

The Harvey County Attorney’s Office will handle the formal filing of charges, Walton said.

More information on the case will be released at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office, Walton said.

The oldest daughter, who turned 15 this past weekend while in protective custody, “seems to have been able to avoid the major abuse issues,” Walton said in an e-mail response to questions Tuesday afternoon.

The children have been in North Newton between three and four years, Walton said.

“The mistreatment has been an ongoing event,” he said, with the alleged abuse apparently beginning in April.

The Nachtigals have been seeking financial support from churches for ministry work in Iquitos, a city of about 371,000 in the Amazon forest. A Facebook page dedicated to the couple’s ministry work mentions presentations on Jan. 31 at Grace Community Church in Newton and on Feb. 7 at Aurora Evangelical Free Church in Nebraska.

A GoFundMe page is seeking $10,000 for the couple’s missionary efforts. The page, titled “The Nachtigals Go to Peru,” includes this explanation: “The money we raise will go toward initial set-up expenses involved with moving to another country. These expenses will include airfare, transportation, lodging, food, purchasing furniture, communication tools, and other essentials needed to make a home in a far away land.

“We hope to be able to move soon, possibly even this summer. To do this, we will need to be fully funded by April 2016.”

No money had been donated as of Tuesday, according to the account page, which was set up on Jan. 25.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger