A Randolph County husband and wife are facing charges after sheriff's deputies say they deprived their children of food, as a form of punishment. Richard Lambert, 42, and his wife Tonya Lambert, 44 of Beverly, are each charged with two counts of child neglect creating risk of injury.
On Saturday, Aug. 9, sheriff's deputies responded to a 911 call about a runaway teenager. The Lamberts reported that their 14-year-old son had run away from home. Richard Lambert told deputies, "Just so you know what kind of kids you're dealing with, they are always in trouble and stealing," according to the criminal complaint. Lambert also told deputies that his sons had been stealing food from him all summer.
While at the house, a deputy interviewed the Lamberts' 16-year-old son. The teen told the deputy that his brother had run away to find food, the criminal complaint says. During the interview, the deputy noticed that the boy had sunken eyes, gray skin and was very skinny, which he detailed in court documents. When the deputy found the 14-year-old sitting on the side of the road, later that day, he described his appearance as being very similar to his brother's. The teen told the deputy that he had gotten in trouble and knew his father would take his meal for the day away. He also told the deputy that he was only given one meal per day.
A Child Protective Services representative and two other sheriff's deputies returned to the Lamberts' home. Once inside, they found that the two teens were sharing one room with a third brother. The room was locked from the outside and was described by a deputy in court documents as "a jail cell equipped with two mattresses in the floor and a toilet in the middle of the room." The CPS worker discovered that the Lamberts used nutritional deprivation as punishment and that at the time she was at the home, the boys had not eaten in more than 48 hours. Richard Lambert was also accused of taking the boys' blankets from them and punching them in the chest, according to the complaint.
The children were removed from the home, that day, by CPS, deputies said.
Both Richard and Tonya Lambert are being held in the Tygart Valley Regional Jail with bail set at $50,000 each.