Boy lived three years locked in bedroom

Published October 13, 2006

JACKSONVILLE - A man is charged with child abuse for allegedly keeping his 9-year-old son locked in a bedroom for much of the past three years, a surveillance camera tracking his every move.

The home of Randall Warren Piercy, 41, was like a prison, with cameras in nearly every room. The father monitored the boy on television and computer screens, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Lt. Annie Smith said.

The boy seemed thrilled to be removed from the home, Smith said. He was placed in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families.

During the three years, the boy did not attend school, receive medical attention or have contact with anyone outside the family, Smith said. The police report said he was homeschooled but could not read children's books.

Relatives told police the boy was usually allowed to use the bathroom just once a day, which his father thought would teach him control of his bodily functions.

Piercy was arrested Wednesday on charges of aggravated child abuse. As officers walked him into jail, he said he was wrongly accused, the victim of a vendetta by his in-laws. He told police he kept the child in the room because he "believed it was in the best interest of the child," Smith said.

Piercy was ordered held in lieu of $1-million bail at a court hearing Thursday, and a judge forbade any contact between the child and his parents. It was not known whether Piercy had an attorney.

Police were still investigating the involvement of the child's mother, Michelle Piercy. She told a television station the boy was not abused.

"We are very protective," she said, adding that the cameras were there to make sure he didn't hurt himself. She said the boy was hyperactive and was locked in his room at night to keep him from going outside and getting hurt.

A police report said investigators were told Michelle Piercy let her husband make all decisions regarding the boy and that she didn't even know his clothing sizes or favorite games or TV shows. The report said her husband let her see the boy only for an hour a day.

The investigation apparently was prompted by Michelle Piercy's father, Dan Boswell. A police report said Boswell, a real estate broker, went to the home this month with an investigator posing as an investor. The undercover officer found the boy locked in a room, sitting on a bed in his underwear. The room had a camera on a wall aimed at the bed, according to the report.

A call to the grandfather was not immediately returned. No one answered phone messages left at the Piercys' home and business. The business phone answered as "My Computer Land."

No one answered the door Thursday morning at the family's two-story home, which sits off a private road in a rural area south of Jacksonville. A child's swing set and a canoe were in the front yard, and a motor home was parked alongside the house. A black box, which appeared to be a camera, was mounted on a deck and pointed toward the driveway.