JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A father was arrested and charged with keeping his 9-year-old son locked in a bedroom for much of the past three years and watching his every move with surveillance cameras.
The home of Randall Warren Piercy, 41, was like a prison that had cameras in almost every room, with the father monitoring the boy on TV and computer screens, sheriff's Lt. Annie Smith said Thursday.
Over the past three years, the boy did not attend school, receive medical attention or have contact with people outside the family, Smith said. Authorities said he was home-schooled but could not read children's books.
Relatives told police that the boy was usually allowed to use the bathroom only once a day because his father was teaching him to control his body.
Piercy was arrested Wednesday on charges that included aggravated child abuse. He was jailed on $1 million bail. Social workers took the boy from the home.
As Piercy was led off to jail, he said he was wrongly accused and was the victim of a vendetta by his in-laws. He told authorities he kept the boy in the room for his own good, Smith said.
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 Michelle Piercy allowed her husband to make all the decisions regarding the boy. The report said her husband let her see the boy only at certain times and usually for only an hour a day.
The arrest came after an investigator posing as a real estate investor went to the home earlier 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.