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The Arroyo family in Arriani’s bedroom. 

The Arroyo family in Arriani’s bedroom. 

Photographer: David Kasnic for Bloomberg Businessweek
The Big Take

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“Sissy’s tangled!”

The 5-year-old boy’s panicked cries echoed down the hallway of the Arroyos’ three-bedroom clapboard house in Milwaukee. It was February 2021, and he’d been playing with his 9-year-old sister, Arriani, before bedtime. Their mother was at a Bible study class, and their father was in his basement workshop, out of earshot. The boy had watched Arriani climb atop a toy chest, wrap a metal dog leash around her neck and hook the buckle to the wardrobe door hinge. Now she was hanging 2 feet from the ground, kicking and desperately scratching at her neck.