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W. Va. Man, Woman Arrested After 2 Children Found Locked in Shed


A 14-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl were found locked inside of a shed on Monday evening

By Charna Flam

Donald Ray Lantz and Jeanne Kay Whitefeather are in police custody after two children were allegedly found locked in a shed in Sissonville, West Virginia, the Kanawha County Sheriff's office said in a press release.

Deputy H.K. Burdette responded to a call to the 200 block of Cheyenne Lane in Sissonville just after 5:45 p.m. local time on Monday afternoon, the department said. The caller saw a man open the shed, speak to the minors and then lock the shed behind him, authorities said.

“Deputies had to force entry into the barn where they located a juvenile male and juvenile female locked inside an approximate 20x14 foot room,” reported the sheriff's office.

The deputies reported that the captive children had no access to running water and no functioning bathroom facilities in the shed. They were allegedly deprived of adequate hygienic care and food in the shed that had no windows, no beds, or a single table and chair.

The two children, a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, informed the deputies that they had no means to exit the shed, reports WSAZ.

The 16-year-old girl also reported to the deputies that this was a common occurrence for the siblings, reports WVVA. She also revealed that she and her brother were given food at approximately 6 a.m. that morning, and then were locked inside the room until the authorities arrived, reports the outlet.

Another minor was in the main residence, according to the criminal complaint obtained by WSAZ.

“I observed a small child through the window, appearing to be approximately 5 to 6 years old sitting alone on the floor of the loft. I observed the child crying and close to the railing of an approximately 15-foot drop from the loft. Due to the distressed condition of the child and risk of the child falling, forced entry was made to secure the child,” the criminal complaint states, reports WZAS News.

There were no caretakers or guardians at the scene when deputies arrived, the sheriff's office said. However, the adoptive parents Lantz, 63, and Whitefeather, 61, then arrived at the home between 8:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.

Whitefeather allegedly confirmed to the deputies that the children were left in the shed and said that “they like it,” reports  WVVA.

Lantz and Whitefeather were arrested on felony charges of gross child neglect creating a substantial risk of injury, authorities said. Bonds for Lantz and Whitefeather have been set at $200,000 cash. A preliminary hearing date has been set for the pair on Oct. 12, reports WSAZ.

A spokesperson for Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for additional information on Tuesday.

Anyone with information related to the case is asked to contact Detective R.S. Alford or Lieutenant A.C. Pile at Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, 304-357-0556, or submit a tip to kanawhasheriff.us.

2023 Oct 4