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Westmoreland County Couple Faces Serious Charges After Their Children Said They Felt Unsafe At Home

ALLEGHENY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) -- An Allegheny Township couple is facing multiple felony charges after their children told police they felt unsafe at home.

Allegheny Township Police Department Chief Duane Fisher said, "What prompted us was a 911 hang-up call on the morning of Jan. 18."

That call led Allegheny Township police to the home of Nevin and Leann Lawson on Indian Hill Road. What investigators found set into motion an investigation that uncovered disturbing claims about what was going on behind closed doors.

"It was clear that there was definitely an uncomfortable situation, to say the least, for the children in the home," Fisher said.

Over the course of several days, the children, ages 9 to 16, were interviewed separately at their schools. They told investigators very consistent stories of mental and verbal abuse at the hands of their parents.

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

"There were cameras in all the rooms, devices set up to limit access, and I'm not talking about padlocks. I'm talking about high-tech locks, you had to know secret codes and ways to swipe things in order to gain access to these cabinets," Fisher said.

The chief said most of the food was behind cabinets that needed a key fob for access. Furthermore, he said there were secret rooms and passageways throughout the house.

He said the basement, where the oldest son's bedroom is, looked like it was out of the movie "Silence of the Lambs." The only bathroom the kids were allowed to use was in the basement.

When police interviewed the children at their schools, they found the 9-year-old daughter wearing only a shirt for a dress and no tights and it was below 20 degrees that day.

"This situation, I believe, has been going on for some time," Fisher said.

Neighbor Tom Polchinski said he was devastated to hear the news. He said the boys did a lot of yard work for him over the three years they lived across the street. He described them as mannerly and hard-working.

"I just hope the kids are alright because we really like the kids," Polchinski said.

The children are not in the custody of the parents. A no-contact order was placed as a condition of the parents' bond.

"That was something clearly stated by the kids. They were happy to feel safe," Chief Fisher said.

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