FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — The one-story house on Mine Road looked unkempt and suspiciously vacant. Trash littered the grounds, and the roof tiles were warping. Neighbors couldn’t recall seeing people coming or going.
But someone was worried. On Saturday, a concerned citizen called local authorities, asking for someone to check on the family supposedly living there. Within minutes, two sheriff’s deputies arrived. A 43-year-old man named Kariem Moore opened the door and met the officers outside, at the bottom of the home’s front stairs.
“He began to rant and rave,” said Lt. C.A. Carey, a spokesman for the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office. “He attempted to divert their attention . . . But the deputies reminded him, ‘We are here to check on the welfare of your family.’ ”
As soon as Moore turned his back to escort the deputies into the home, Carey said, a woman and two boys, ages 11 and 8, burst out a rear door on the right side of the house, yelling.
The woman made an astonishing allegation, Carey said: Moore had been holding her and the boys captive for at least two years, barring them from leaving the property.
Moore has been charged with three felony counts of abduction and felony assault and battery, Carey said, and is being held without bond at Rappahannock Regional Jail. He faces a preliminary hearing in September. Authorities say they believe that he was in a relationship with the woman, and that the boys are their biological children.
Authorities have not released details about the alleged captivity, such as where the woman and her two sons slept, what they ate and how Moore allegedly prohibited them from fleeing. When he was arrested, he wasn’t carrying any weapons. Carey said he did not know if Moore kept any guns inside the house because the investigation is ongoing.
“This is not something you see on a daily basis. You see it on TV but not in your local community,” Carey said. “You never know when a simple call can save someone’s life.”
He said sheriff’s deputies had not been called to the property previously in 2017. There was a service request from another jurisdiction in 2016, Carey said, but the deputies who responded to the residence were called back either before they arrived or once they got there.
Online records indicate that Moore previously lived in Philadelphia. It was not immediately clear what brought him to Virginia, but he appears to have spent time in Fairfax County before ending up in Fredericksburg, about 50 miles south of Washington.
Dave Larrabee, director of operations for the Lamb Center — a day center for the homeless in Fairfax — said Moore frequented that facility for about four or five months in 2012, with a woman Larrabee said was his wife and a young son.
Larrabee said the family would spend nights living in their car.
“I do remember he had a temper,” Larrabee said. “He got angry at some of the other guests. I had a way of calming him down.”
Moore’s mother, Harriette Moore, said in a brief phone interview that she hadn’t seen her son in as long as five years. She said she was still trying to learn more about the allegations against him.
“It’s a shock. I’m trying to hold up. I can’t get it together,” said Harriette Moore, who is in her 60s, has retired from working in government and lives in Philadelphia. “He was raised correctly. I raised my children to make their own way and become someone in the world.”
She said the last time she saw Moore, he was with his significant other, who was using a wheelchair, and their children. She said Moore was taking care of his partner because she was “very sick.” She did not know if the couple had married.
Neighbors in Fredericksburg, whose well-tended lawns and spacious homes and decks stood in stark contrast to the rental property where Moore was arrested, said they were unaware that anyone was living there until this week.
Kevin Johnson, a high school social studies teacher who lives with his family on a cul-de-sac directly behind the house, said he hadn’t seen “any kind of activity there, ever.” He said the neighborhood is generally filled with kids playing outside, with one or two parents casually keeping watch.
“We’re a relatively close-knit neighborhood, where people usually know what’s going on,” Johnson said. “It’s really sad. It’s awful.”
Katherine Sorensen, a cashier at a Wawa convenience store about three miles from the house, said Moore was an occasional customer. He’d always pull up in a moped to buy a cup of coffee — and never with children in tow, she said.
Sorensen also said she’d seen Moore frequenting some of the dozen or so fast-food restaurants that are clustered around the nearby Interstate 95 interchange.
“I’ve seen him everywhere around here,” she said. “I saw him in the news this morning.”
Shapira and Siegel reported from Washington. Magda Jean-Louis in Washington contributed to this report.