Leslie Tiesler, 37, of Calvary Church Road, was arrested Oct. 16.
Rollins said five children lived with Tiesler. Four were adopted and one is Tiesler's biological child.
Investigators with the sheriff's office and the Department of Social Services began looking into the case after getting a report of possible child abuse in May.
Rollins said three of Tiesler's adopted children complained they were starved, beaten with a wooden spoon, and locked in a room and a tool box. The two other children allegedly participated in the cruel treatment of the three.
All five children were removed from the home by DSS officials and placed in foster care shortly after the complaint was filed. Rollins said the three alleged victims have gained significant weight since their removal.
The alleged abuse took place over a period of 14 months. Tiesler's ex-husband, Brad Thill, was working as a private defense contractor in Kabul, Afghanistan at the time.
Thill was also arrested and charged of misdemeanor child abuse.
Thill was overseas for two and a half years and didn't see the children until April 26, 2012. Thill is the adoptive father of all five children.
"I came home from Afghanistan and came home to this and I'm trying to put the pieces together myself," said Thill to ABC11 before his arrest.
"He acknowledges that he did not do anything to get his children into that condition and that he was starting to take steps to help them when DSS in Harnett County got involved," said Jason Wunsch, Thill's attorney.
Meanwhile, Tiesler is charged with three counts of child abuse. Her bond was set at $1 million.
Thill's bond was set at $5,000 bond.