SISSONVILLE, WV (WOWK) — A man and a woman were arrested Monday afternoon after two juveniles were found in a locked barn with no running water, a working bathroom or a way to leave, as well as another in an unprotected loft in the home.
According to the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, they were called to the 200 block of Cheyenne Lane in Sissonville just after 5:45 p.m. Monday afternoon. They were called there to check on the juveniles after a caller saw a man open the shed, say something to the juveniles and then lock the barn behind him.
They said they had to force their way into a barn where two juveniles were found locked inside a 20-by-14-foot room. There was no running water, a working bathroom or a way to exit, as well as a lack of hygienic care and food. The criminal complaint for the suspects said the two juveniles in the barn were not allowed in the house and were allegedly forced to do farm work.
“They had no plumbing, no running water, they had no bathroom facilities. Their hygiene was horrific, and they had no means to come out of this barn,” said Sgt. Josh Lester, Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office. “If there was any emergency of any type or anything going on, these kids were at the mercy of whoever had the key to let them in and out.”
The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office said another child was locked inside the home and was found in an unprotected loft that is around 15 feet high.
While no parents or caretakers were at the scene, deputies said their adoptive parents – Donald Lantz, 63, and Jeanne Whitefeather, 61, of Sissonville – were arrested after getting to the scene. They are being charged with gross child neglect creating a substantial risk of injury.
“We’ve learned that they are parents of five adopted children. Three of those adopted children were at the residence, two at the barn and one inside the primary residence, and the other two, the detectives are following up on to check their welfare and wellbeing and working on getting them removed as well,” said Lester.
Neighbors tell 13 News several animals including wallabies, donkey, sheep and dogs were also found on the property. According to Lester, deputies are working on finding a home for those animals.