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Couple Charged With Child Abuse After 5 Found Living On Boat

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Mary Bubala 370x278 Mary Bubala
Mary Bubala joined WJZ in December 2003. She now anchors the 4-4:30...
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SEVERNA PARK, Md. (WJZ) — Children kept as virtual prisoners on a sailboat off shore on the Chesapeake Bay. Investigators have charged a homeless couple with child abuse after discovering a family of five living in deplorable conditions on a boat.

Mary Bubala has the story.

A 28-foot sailboat had been anchored in the Magothy River in Severna Park since early February.

“The living space for the five people and two dogs was approximately 10′ by 9′. I think you’d really have to see inside the boat and realize the children that were not permitted to go to shore for weeks,” police said.

Father John Joseph Kelly, 53, and his wife, 43-year-old Sherry Lee Kelly, were arrested and charged with child abuse and sent to jail. Two boys, ages 14 and 15, were taken into protective custody.

Adrian Stead, 23, was also living on the boat. He was the children’s half-brother and owner of the boat. He was not charged.

“We didn’t have any other place to go,” Stead said.

He says the family was homeless, unemployed and just trying to survive.

“My grandfather’s landlord said we couldn’t go over there, so there was no other place for us to go,” said Stead.

The two teenagers are going to stay with relatives in another state.

The parents remain behind bars. Neither was able to post bail.

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