Rockville, Md., couple charged with abusing twin 22-year-old autistic sons

A Rockville couple was charged with abusing their twin 22-year-old autistic sons by keeping them locked at night in a basement room with no furniture, no working lights and a single comforter on a bare tile floor, according to Montgomery County arrest records.

The room smelled of urine and had only one window, which was too small for an adult to escape through in an emergency, Montgomery police alleged in court documents. The two doors to the room were allegedly locked from the outside, one with a deadbolt and the other a padlock.

The couple — John Land, 57, and Janice Land, 59 — were booked into the county jail Friday and were later released on bond.

“It’s sad. Nobody deserves to be treated like that,” neighbor Bruce Drennan said Monday.

The Lands could not be reached for comment. Court records did not indicate whether they have retained an attorney.


HANDOUT PHOTO: Mugshot showing John Weaver Land. John Land and Janice Land were arrested by Montgomery County Police on July 17, 2014. (Courtesy of Montgomery County Police Department)

In statements to detectives, as detailed in court records, the couple said that their sons had left the house in the past and that their sons could not provide for their daily needs. The sons were said to be nonverbal, communicating by pointing to objects that they wanted.

John Land also told detectives that the couple recently had removed furniture from the basement bedroom because it was soiled, according to court documents, and the couple indicated that they would purchase new furniture when they could afford it.

It appeared that police discovered the room by accident.

Early Thursday, they arrived at the home — in the 1600 block of Crawford Drive — to serve a search warrant in an unrelated case, records indicate. Once inside, they found a room in the basement with an external dead bolt. They opened it, went inside and found the two young men, according to court records.

There was a second door to the room, which led to a bathroom, but it was padlocked from the outside, arrest records alleged.

The Lands were home during the search. Police took both of them in for questioning.

John Land said he and his wife were primary caretakers, according to court records. He said one of the sons had damaged part of the house so he had taken to keeping them locked in the basement room, police alleged in court papers, and Janice Land told detectives that the two sons had been using the room as a bedroom for the past six years.


HANDOUT PHOTO: Mugshot showing Janice Elizabeth Land. John Land and Janice Land were arrested by Montgomery County Police on July 17, 2014. (Courtesy of Montgomery County Police Department)

John Land said he usually locked them in at 10 p.m. and let them out when he got up at 4:45 a.m., according to court records.

Detectives asked Land how he would know if the sons needed something. He told them that the two would eventually make enough noise that he knew when to check on them, according to officials.

Police reported that there were no working smoke detectors in the house. The Lands were each charged with two counts of abuse of a vulnerable adult and two counts of false imprisonment.

A police spokeswoman declined to say what had originally led detectives to the house.

Paramedics took the twins from the house and transported them for medical evaluation, according to documents.

A sign attached to the front door of the house Monday evening indicated that the house had been condemned by inspectors from the City of Rockville.

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Post staff writer Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County, Md.
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