MD parents locked adult autistic sons in basement ‘dungeon’ every night for years: cops
A Rockville, Maryland couple is charged with locking their 22-year-old twin sons, who are autistic, in a dungeon-like enclosure in their house’s basement.
According to WJLA Channel 7, John Land, 57, and Janice Land, 59, were both arraigned in Montgomery County Court on Friday on two counts each of vulnerable adult abuse and attempted false imprisonment.
Police raided the Land’s house at 5:00 a.m. last Thursday and found the young men locked in the urine-reeking enclosure, which featured only a single blanket on the hard floor and no other furniture. The only source of light was a narrow slit window high on the wall. In the event of a fire or other emergency, the twins would have no means of escape.
John Land told police that his sons are completely unable to speak, only communicating by pointing to or grabbing objects they want. He and his wife, he said, were only trying to keep the boys from running away in the night. Left to their own devices, he explained, the twins had run away before or caused other problems.
Janice Land claimed no knowledge of her husband’s practice of locking the boys in their pen each night at 10:00 p.m., then releasing them in the morning.
“If someone locked them in the room, I didn’t know about it,” she reportedly told detectives.
Arrest documents said that Janice Long told police that the family had only recently thrown out the basement room’s furnishings because they smelled of urine, but had been unable, so far, to save up for new items.
Neighbor Natalie Larson told Channel 7, “We obviously didn’t know anything about that, and we certainly would have done something if we had. I work with kids with disabilities, and the kids I work with are certainly not in basements, so that’s really upsetting.”
“It’s shameful really,” said another neighbor, Sam French. “That’s not parenting. I mean that’s just locking someone up for God’s sakes. That’s like being a jailer. Who would do that to their children?”
The Lands’ home has been condemned by the county and the couple are currently living in a hotel. They are due back in court on Sep. 2.
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