A Maryland husband and wife have been charged with the abuse of their sons in Montgomery County, Maryland. The sons, 22-year-old twins with autism, were kept in a locked basement room at night with only one blanket to lay on the tile floor. The basement had no working light fixtures and no furniture and, according to police, there were only two operating smoke detectors in the home.
John and Janice Land, 57 and 59, respectively, were arrested on Thursday and placed in the custody of the county jail. They later posted bond and were released. It is not known whether they have retained an attorney or not.
Filed court documents contain statements by police alleging that the basement room was equipped with only one window that was not sufficiently sized to allow for an adult to escape the room. The only other entrances to the room, two doors, were locked from the outside – one with a deadbolt and one using a padlock.
According to court records, the Lands indicated to investigators that due to their sons’ autism, they were unable to take care of themselves properly. In addition, the young men did not speak and relied on pointing and making noises in order to communicate their needs and/or wishes. They were kept locked in the basement due to having run away from the house in the past, and according to John Land, because one of the sons had caused damage to another area of the Rockville, Maryland, home.
Janice Land informed detectives that the room had been the twins’ bedroom for six years, but denied any knowledge that they had been locked inside of it.
In his statement, John Land explained that his sons were usually locked inside of the basement room at 10 p.m. and were released when he woke up in the morning at 4:45 a.m. He also told detectives that the furniture had only recently been taken out of the basement because it was dirty, and that he and his wife planned to buy new furniture when they could afford to.
When asked by detectives how he would know if one of his sons needed help, John Land indicated that they would usually create enough noise by screaming and yelling that he would know to check in on them.
Police happened upon the locked room when serving a search warrant on the house as part of a completely separate case, about which a police spokeswoman would make no comment. While looking in the basement, they discovered a door locked on the outside with a deadbolt. Upon opening the lock and entering the room, they discovered the twin brothers. Although a second door to the room led to a bathroom, it was locked from the outside as well. At that time, police escorted the Lands to the station to be questioned.
A neighbor of the couple told Fox News that her son was friends with the Lands’ other children and had reported to her what went on inside of the home. The neighbor claims that she called officials three years ago, but no steps were ever taken to address the conditions.
According to the brother of John Land, his brother and sister-in-law’s other children are known to the Rockville, Maryland, police and for that reason, officials are targeting John and Janice Land. He maintains that they love their children and were doing the best they could to take care of them.
The Lands have been charged with two counts of false imprisonment and two counts of vulnerable adult abuse. Emergency personnel removed the twins from the home and brought them to be evaluated at a medical facility. They remain in protective custody. The Rockville home has been condemned by the city as of Monday evening. The Lands are scheduled to appear next in Montgomery County District Court on Sept. 2.
By Jennifer Pfalz