Police say a 9-year-old boy lived like a prisoner in his home off a rural, private road: Locked in his bedroom for much of three years, he did not attend school, had no friends and was watched by his father on surveillance cameras that tracked his every move.
His father claimed the strict living conditions were for his son's best interest, said police, who took the 41-year-old man to jail Wednesday on charges of malicious punishment and child abuse.
The home had cameras in almost every room, with the father monitoring the boy on television and computer screens, sheriff's Lt. Annie Smith said.
A black box that appeared to be a camera could be seen mounted on a deck of the home Thursday, pointed toward the driveway.
Smith said it appears the boy did not receive medical attention for several years and may have been cut off from human contact, except for that with his family.
Now, investigators are trying to determine why the boy was kept in such conditions for so long, never learning to read books, and, according to relatives, usually allowed to use the bathroom only once a day.
Randall Warren Piercy, 41, was jailed on $1 million (Ђ800,000) bail. Social workers took the boy from the home, and a judge ordered his parents not to have any contact with him, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokesman Ken Jefferson said.
Piercy said he was wrongly accused and the victim of a vendetta by his in-laws.
The child's mother, Michelle Piercy, who was not immediately charged, told WTLV-TV that her son was not abused and that the cameras allowed her and her husband to make sure he did not hurt himself.
She said the boy was hyperactive and was locked in his room at night to prevent him from going outside and getting hurt.
"We are very protective," she said.
Police said they were still investigating the mother's role.
According to a police report, investigators were told that Michelle Piercy allowed her husband to make all the decisions regarding the boy and that she doesn't even know what size he wears or what television shows or games he likes. The report said her husband let her see the boy only at certain times and usually for only an hour a day, reports AP.
The arrest came after an investigator posing as a real estate investor went to the home this month with the boy's maternal grandfather, a real estate broker.
The undercover officer found the boy in a locked room, sitting on a bed in his underwear. The room smelled faintly of urine and had a camera mounted on a wall, aimed at the child's bed, authorities said.
A call to the grandfather was not immediately returned.
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