CHESTER, S.C. – For nearly four years, a South Carolina man held his wife and two sons captive in a house infested with maggots and human waste, authorities said.
The boys slept on a bare mattress as their mother was kept in a drug-induced stupor in a house that was decrepit except for a tidy one-room illegal gambling parlor run by Danny William Dove, police said.
Police found maggots infesting the refrigerator. Human waste and used toilet paper littered the bathroom floor and the house smelled like a dead animal, according to police photographs and authorities who visited the home after Dove was arrested this week.
The living room was covered in trash and upturned furniture, the kitchen's cabinets were falling apart and dirty clothing was piled in waist-high heaps.
"There was chaos everywhere," Chester County Sheriff's Detective Scott Thompson said Thursday. "I don't think we'll ever really determine how it happened — how you get to live like that. I think he got so wrapped up in drugs and wanting to control everything, nothing else mattered."
The young boys, ages 4 and 8, didn't go to school. Police say they rarely were allowed out of the house and that a video camera monitored their room and the doors to the home. The boys' own grandmother says they're hard to understand unless they're cursing.
Dove, 45, plied his wife, Tamara, with prescription painkillers, cocaine and crack, and forbade her to go outside, police said. Thompson said he didn't expect the 37-year-old mother would be lucid enough to be interviewed for weeks.
"People don't understand why she just doesn't leave," Thompson said. "But with a little intimidation and a lot of drug use, this is what they grew to know as normal life."
Dove was charged with two counts of distribution of a controlled substance, two counts of criminal conspiracy, operating a gambling establishment and two counts of child neglect. He remained in jail Thursday without bond. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison.
But Dove's mother said her son held no one hostage and that his wife was the root of the couple's drug addiction.
"She's driven my son crazy," Helaine Young said in an interview at her home.
Young said she threw up when she visited the home with police, her first visit since Christmas 2005, when she said she left after being threatened by her daughter-in-law.
Young said her son was once a wealthy owner of several convenient stores, paying for anything his wife requested including baby sitters and house cleaners. Her son installed the cameras for the family's security when he renovated the home in a rural town near the North Carolina line, she said. The pair met about 13 years ago, Young said.
Young, who has taken care of the couple's 12-year-old son since he was an infant, said she's asked the Department of Social Services repeatedly over the last six years to investigate.
Messages left with Department of Social Services were not immediately returned Friday.
Dove's oldest child, 20-year-old Brittney Dove, said she and a friend used to take care of the boys when she stayed in the home. But she last saw them about three years ago, she said.
"She would not get out of the bed," Brittney said of the boys' mother. "It disgusts me that he's in jail. I'm not condoning what he did. There's no excuse for the child neglect. But she should be there, too. He honestly loved her. He was nothing but good to her."
Thompson said the boys were socially inept.
"The oldest one can communicate, but it's on a 3- to 4-year-old, broken-English level," he said. "The 4-year-old jibber jabbers. It's rambling stuff."
Young said the two knew how to curse because that's what they heard at home.
"The cuss words were the plainest words you can hear from them," she said, recalling phone conversations with the boys.
The boys are living safely with a relative, Thompson said.
"Maybe now we've given these kids the chance of a normal life," Thompson said.