ROCKDALE COUNTY, Ga. - A Rockdale County home became a prison for three children locked up in their rooms by their own father, according to investigators.
Neighbors around the home, on Hull Drive, told Channel 2's Carl Willis that nearly everything appeared normal from the outside. The only change was that they had not seen the children in months.
"It's a sad situation," said neighbor Cathy Morris. "We just don't know what's going on behind closed doors."
"We're hearing this more and more," she said. "You've got Ohio and different places, so it's a little disconcerting."
Wednesday, deputies arrested 37-year-old Lev
Dzyuba and his sisters, 20-year-old Alina Dzyuba and Natalia Mellon, on suspicion of false imprisonment and cruelty to children.
A basketball hoop in the driveway, a
swing set in the back yard and Dzyuba's van from his air conditioning and heating company near the garage would hardly attract a second look.
Inside, however, investigators said the children's rooms were far from normal.
"I don't want to go into the details, but I'll just say it was secured more than you would secure a room in your house normally," said Capt. Chris Traylor.
Thursday, investigators searched the home and crawled into the crawl space to look for evidence in the home where, they said, Dzyuba's 8, 10 and especially his 15-year-old son were held captive.
"The information we have is they haven't been out of the house in two months," said Traylor.
Investigators said the Department of Families and Children Services received a tip and went to the home to investigate.
They contacted the Sheriff's Office to assist.
Once they arrived at the home, investigators
said, Alina Dyzuba would not let them come inside.
They only gained entry once Lev Dzyuba returned home from work. That is when the investigators were able to speak with the children.
"When a 15-year-old child is secured in a room and he can't get out of the
room without somebody letting him out, and he's kept in the house and unable to go outside of the house, things of that nature is what makes it criminal," said Traylor.
Investigators said the alleged abuse was subtle and much more mental than physical.
"It has to just completely separate them from all of their peers and just be a huge impact on them to pull them out of the socialization with their friends," said neighbor Andrew Covington.
Deputies said the treatment began about a year ago when the children's mother passed away.
According to jail
records, the father is accused of depriving the children of necessary sustenance, and his sisters are accused of causing the children excessive physical or mental pain.
The adults were taken to jail, and the children were taken into custody by DFACS.
"Prayerfully, we hope they're in the right place with the right people," said Morris.