Wretched conditions on sailboat lead to child abuse charges
[Keep in mind that wind chill conditions the past 6 weeks have frequently been below 10 degrees F.]
Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 10:00 am | Updated: 11:48 pm, Wed Feb 19, 2014.
By BEN WEATHERS bweathers
A mother and father have been charged with child abuse after they were found living in squalor on a sailboat in the Magothy River with two children, an adult son and two dogs, a Natural Resources Police spokeswoman said.
John Kelly and Sherri Kelly have been charged with two counts each of felony second-degree child abuse and misdemeanor neglect of a minor. Both are being held at the Jennifer Road Detention Center in Parole.
Following bail review hearing on Tuesday, John Kelly is being held on a $50,000 bond and Sherri Kelly is being held on a $25,000 bond, a jail representative said.
Two boys, estimated to be in their early teens, were taken into custody by Anne Arundel County Child Protective Services, Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candus Thomson said.
The couple’s adult son is believed to be in his early 20s, Thomson said.
Investigators had a hard time identifying the Kellys, Thomson said. The mother and father have no Social Security numbers and have been tied to a handful of aliases in at least six different states, Thomson said.
“They’ve given us names there’s no way to verify.”
Both Kellys claimed to investigators to be “constitutionalists” who didn’t believe in the government’s right to govern them. As he was arrested, John Kelly told investigators that he was not a citizen of any of the 50 states, Thomson said.
NRP has not released mugshots of the Kellys, to protect the identities of the children.
The Kellys were arrested on Friday after the U.S. Coast Guard, along with county Child Protective Services, boarded their 28-foot sailboat moored in ice on the Magothy River near the mouth of Cypress Creek in Severna Park.
They found the family of five and two dogs living in a 9-by-10-foot space, with no electricity, heat or running water, Thomson said.
The boat’s bow was filled with dirty clothes and trash. Soiled toilet paper and bags of feces were found in the boat’s bathroom, Thomson said.
The family was sleeping on a small, makeshift mattresses. The temperature on board was around 50 degrees at the time, Thomson said.
Investigators fond canned goods on board, but no stove with which to cook them.
The only way to get off the boat was on a pool float held together by duct tape. During interviews, investigators learned that John Kelly was the only one to ever leave the boat by getting on the float and scooting across the ice to shore, Thomson said.
One of the boys was wearing shoes several sizes too big with no socks. The boys told investigators that they haven’t been to school since sometime before Jan. 1, Thomson said.
Prior to the arrests, authorities had come in contact with the family three times in recent weeks.
On. Jan. 28, the Coast Guard responded to Poplar Island, off the Eastern Shore, where they found the family on another sailboat stuck in the ice, with no heat or fuel.
The family was taken to shore after the rudder on the boat had broken. The Kellys later told investigators that they had purchased the second sailboat for $1, Thomson said.
On Feb. 9, the NRP received calls about the sailboat moored on the Magothy near the mouth of Cypress Creek. Callers reported seeing young boys huddled together on the boat’s deck, Thomson said.
The NRP checked to see if the family was OK but lacked probable cause to inspect the boat and left, Thomson said.
Last Wednesday the NRP once again checked on the boat after receiving multiple calls. The family was again asked if they wanted to be pulled to shore and they refused, Thomson said.
After a third set of calls last Friday, the Coast Guard and county Child Protective Services were notified, Thomson said.
Investigators have both boats and are searching them for clues to determine the identities of the family. Thomson noted that the case was rare for the agency, which generally handles boating and hunting offenses.
from the Annapolis Capital Gazette <http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/for_the_record/mother-father-charged-with-child-abuse-after-family-found-living/article_9962d5a0-a921-5258-ab06-ee0097200695.html>