Severna Park, Md (WUSA9) -- Family members say a couple accused of child abuse for allegedly keeping their sons as virtual prisoners on a filthy, ice-bound sailboat for weeks are homeless people who were simply trying to survive.
"We didn't have any place else to go," said 23-year-old Adrian Stead, who was also living on the 28-foot sailboat anchored in the Magothy River.
Stead's step father 53-year-old John Joseph Kelly and his mother 43-year-old wife Sherri Leeann Kelly have been jailed and charged with child abuse while their two teenaged sons have been sent by authorities to live with relatives in another state.
According to charging documents, five people and two dogs were crammed into the ice-bound boat which was littered with animal and human waste. Children told investigators they had not been allowed to go to shore for weeks and were not attending school. Little food or water was found on the boat named the Siku Too.
Stead said the children were being home schooled and the boat was the only safe place the family could live after other relatives were unable to take them in.
Stead said he was the owner of the boat, and another vessel, which had been given to him by owners who could no longer afford slip fees and other costs.
The US Coast guard rescued the family January 28th when they attempted to sail to Norfolk Virginia in the second vessel but were besieged by violent winter weather. Coast Guard officer told investigators that conditions on the boat were "deplorable to a point where children should not be living on board." That boat was towed to a pier at Sandy Point State Park and the family moved onto the second boat where they were found by authorities in the Magothy River February 9th.
John Joseph Kelly told investigators he was not a citizen of any state, believes in the Constitution, and is not bound by the laws of the US Government. He demanded to have the case handled according to the Geneva Conventions. Neither Kelly nor his wife have been able to afford bail and remain in detention.