A couple allegedly shuttered their four children from the world by forbidding them to go outside, and three of them used their own language to communicate because they can only speak broken English, authorities and a relative said.
Edward and Lucinda Sizemore each pleaded not guilty Thursday to four counts of nonsupport of a dependent, a misdemeanor. They were ordered held on $10,000 bond.
Neighbors said they had seen the couple's four children--ages 4, 8, 11 and 17--only a few times since the Sizemores moved to suburban Harrison Township from Kentucky about five years ago.
Della Lewis, an aunt now caring for the children, said, "Their mom told them if they went outside and people saw them not being in school, she'd get in trouble."
Lewis went to the Sizemores' bright blue, one-story home in late January after the eldest child mailed a note to another aunt in an apparent plea for help. She said she hadn't seen the family in 10 years.
Authorities removed the children Jan. 29, and the parents were arrested Wednesday.
The children do not seem to have been physically abused, Lewis said. The eldest child can easily converse, but the youngest three communicate with themselves through their own language, she said.
"It's gibberish," she said. "They can understand each other, and they can understand what you're saying." The Sizemores declined a request for an interview.
A Children's Services Board spokeswoman said the children were apparently all born at home and lacked birth certificates.