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A welfare check at a Virginia house took an unexpected turn when a mother and two children escaped through a side door and told officers they had been held captive in the home for years.
Responding to a call to check on the home Saturday, police said Kariem Ali Muhammad Moore, 43, seemed reluctant to let them in. Spotsylvania Sheriff's Lt. Charles Carey said police were insisting on inspecting the premises when a woman and two children suddenly emerged from a side door — telling officers the three had not been outside in two years.
Police say the woman, 32, is Moore's girlfriend, and that the 8-year-old and 11-year old children are their kids. The mother told police she and the children were not held in bondage inside the home, but that Moore did not allow them to leave.
Neighbors seem to corroborate the story that the mother and her kids were hidden inside the home for some time, and a police spokesman told the Fredericksburg Freelance-Star that the caller who requested the welfare check was concerned that nobody had seen or heard from any of the family members in a while.
"I just about came out of my skin when I found out what was going on right underneath my nose," neighbor Lorane James, 85, told the Associated Press. She said she also hadn't seen anyone enter or leave the house in two years.
The woman is now at a local medical facility, receiving treatment for health conditions that have been left untreated for years, NBC affiliate WWBT reported. The kids, who police said have never been to school, also received treatment, and are now with family members.
No missing persons reports were ever filed for the family, Lt. Carey said, and police have not yet confirmed if the mother remained in contact with her family during the time she claims she was held captive.
Harriette Moore, the suspect's mother, told the Washington Post she hasn't seen her son in five years, and said the news came as a "shock."
"I'm trying to hold up. I can't get it together," she told the newspaper. "He was raised correctly. I raised my children to make their own way and become someone in the world."
Moore is being held without bond on three counts of abduction by force, intimidation or deception, and one count or assault and battery, authorities said.