A woman who rescued numerous cats and dogs, but abused her three adopted children to the point that one teenager starved to death whilst wearing nappy, has been jailed.

Nicole Finn, a mother-of-five, tortured three teens adopted from foster care and kept them in a bedroom without furniture or regular access to food or a toilet for months.

A court heard that their house, in Des Moines, Iowa, smelled of human and animal waste, and was the place where the 16-year-old was found starved to death wearing an adult nappy and in her own waste.

Natalie Finn starved to death on 24 October last year. Now Nicole has been found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping and child endangerment and will be sentenced on 26 January.

"In 18 years of being a prosecutor, this is the worst case I've ever seen," prosecutor Bret Lucas said according to the Des Moines Register.

During the trial it was stated that Natalie was just six stone when she died and her sister Mikayla Finn testified she drank from a toilet because she was so thirsty.

Another of her sisters gave Natalie, who was being home-schooled at the time, a sponge bath in a kitty litter tray the day before she died, reported the Register.

The court was told that Nicole seemed more concerned about her animals than her children and kept three of her teens in a bedroom without furniture.

Court documents also revealed that the children would sometimes climb out a window of their home and beg for food from neighbours.

Natalie Finn
Natalie Finn suffered a cardiac arrest from emaciation due to denial of critical care, court documents have revealed. Natalie Finn / Facebook

The teenager died at a nearby hospital from a cardiac arrest due to emaciation after a denial of critical care, according to the Polk County medical examiner's office.

West Des Moines police Det. Chris Morgan said in an affidavit: "Many animals roamed freely, including well over a dozen kittens and cats. There were numerous kennels with dogs scattered inside the residence."

The defence claimed that Nicole was detached from reality at the time of her daughter's death and Natalie's father Joseph Michael Finn, 46, was arrested.

The Register reported that he wasn't living with the rest of the family and he is charged with kidnapping, neglect or abandonment and child endangerment with his trial beginning on 8 January.