A couple is being held in Anne Arundel County on neglect charges after authorities said they kept their two underage sons on a boat on the Magothy River with no heat, no way to cook food and “atrocious” conditions.
John and Sherri Kelly, who have no permanent address, were stranded on the thick ice in Chesapeake Bay, but refused help to get to shore, says WTOP. Days later, police returned to check on the family, who were on a boat moored in the Magothy River.
"They were urinating in bottles, there was feces and used toilet paper. You really had to see it to believe it," says Lt. Beth Mauk with the Maryland Natural Resources Police.
An area resident called police when they spotted two children huddled under blankets on deck, reports WJLA TV. Investigators found the 28-foot sailboat with no running water, electricity, or heat. The parents, an adult son and two minor sons, plus two dogs, were living in the nine-by-ten foot space with human waste in bags and bottles.
Mauk says the boys didn't come off the boat for weeks at a time and there is no indication when they attended school.
The Kellys were in Anne Arundel County District Court to face charges of child abuse and neglect. Prosecutors say the two boys are likely in their early teens but there is confusion over the childrens' ages because John Kelly told police they had no jurisdiction over him.
"He told us he was a 'Constitutionalist' and that he would somehow be saved by the Geneva Convention," Mauk told WTOP.
When the couple appeared in court on charges of child abuse and child neglect, prosecutors asked that they be held, saying they had multiple aliases and lived in six states, with no permanent address.
Mauk said the two boys appeared underweight and when they were first interviewed by police they wolfed down snacks from vending machines.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Police have cordoned off the site where the boat is being held, while the court
decides what will happen to the children, WJLA says.