Off The Grid Parents Lose Custody Of 10 Children, Spark Debate About Government Intrusion And Personal Responsibility

May 13, 2015 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Off-the-grid parents lose custody of their ten children after the state of Kentucky determined their living conditions were unsafe, and the story goes viral. The off-the-grid couple – Joe and Nicole Naugler – had stopped using the city’s utilities, homeschooled their children and lived in an open cabin.

off the grid parents custody

Kentucky off-the-grid parents lost custody of their ten children after a private custody hearing, and the story has people talking.

On Tuesday, Joe and Nicole Naugler, known as the Kentucky off-the-grid parents, appeared in front of a judge in Breckinridge County, and they learned that they no longer had custody of their ten children.

Authorities deemed the living conditions of the family of almost 13, (Nicole Naugler is pregnant), were dangerous. A neighbor, who did no wish to be identified, called the police because they were worried about some of the unusual activities taking place in the family’s 28-acre homestead.

The clan had no home, lived in what they called an open tent with no running water or electricity and none of the children went to school.

The police attempted to contact the parents, but in vain. The pair refused to talk to them and revealed their children would not be interrogated without a warrant. The police report stated:

“The allegations were that the family was residing in a tent, mother had given birth in a tent, there is no running water or septic, none of the children were enrolled in school and the father threatened the neighbor with a weapon,”

It went on to say:

“Sheriff Pate made contact with the family via telephone who spoke with the father who said a search warrant was the only way the children could be spoken with and Mrs. Naugler contacted SSC at this date, at the request of Sheriff Pate, and she too said no one could speak with the children about the report or come back to the property without a search warrant.”

It has also been revealed that the children had to be physically removed from the homestead. Additionally, the father had threatened a female neighbor with a gun after he tried to take water from her well, and she refused.

Joe Naugler took to Facebook to ask for prayers and blast the system. He wrote:

“Imagine that they take your children and give them to another person, someone who now believes that you are a bad person for the peaceful lifestyle you live. They tell your child that they are safe now, because they are away from you,”

Mr. Naugler added:

“They tell the child that this act of violence was required for their protection. Protection from you. You have no idea when you will ever see your child again, and that decision is left up to someone who believes your lifestyle is a threat to your child.”

The story of the Breckinridge’s off-the-grid parents has sparked a debate online about government intrusion and how to define what’s good for children.

What are your thoughts on the Naugler family?


Category: News

Comments (19)

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  1. Ro says:

    More and more people are trying to shield their children from the world we live in. I’m often asked if I regretted not having children because I wasn’t able to. When I think of all the terrible things that have happened and watch society decaying before my eyes it makes me glad I couldn’t bring children into the world. I couldn’t give them the world I grew up in where you didn’t have to fear sexual predators lurking in schools. We didn’t lock our doors at night and my parents let us play outside in the summer time until the street lights came on without worry. There hadn’t been a 9/11, there was not such thing as an Amber Alert and children didn’t bully each other to the point of suicide. I can’t blame these parents for wanting to spare their children from that.

  2. susan masson says:

    outright outlandish WRONG to bother this family. even the DOG is smiling in the photos!

  3. Reita Anderson says:

    The picture above shows clean neatly dressed smiling children without apparent distress, I think the powers that be should leave them alone and let the parents raise their children as they see fit, everybody use to live like this and we made it w/o computers, indoor plumbing etc.

    • Cindy says:

      They have a facebook page and phones. Wonder where they get the electricity to run them. And the father was stealing water from the neighbors well. They have no electricity. No running water. No bathrooms. Living 12 people in one tent. And the mother is pregnant. wonder how they managed that in a tent with all those kids sleeping in there with them!

  4. Chris says:

    People have become so self-righteous. How would it feel if we began to take away children because they were forced to attend church or mass or go to temple or pray to Allah several times a day or were made to cover their faces. Better yet, lets round up the Amish and put them in pens. Damn heathens. What have we become as beings? Have we lost our humanity? That neighbor who called, did they offer the help or share their well. I do not know the entire story. And I am sure that there is more to this than what is being written here, but it was not too long ago that we, Americans, lived as these people were living and we, Americans, helped each other become a great nation. My Grand parents used a well and an outhouse. I washed in a tin tub in the front yard when I went to visit. Have we, Americans, become so rigid that we cannot see that there might still be some that desire the freedom our forefathers took for granted and that was Walt Whitman held in such high regard. Have we, Americans, become so jaded and vain as to think that are way is the only way and that technology is the only “true” path. If so, I am saddened by what we, Americans, have become. For we are no longer the protector of freedom but the harbingers of tyranny.

    • Michelle says:

      In response to the neighbor, the situation is the father went onto the neighbor’s property to get water. Father did not have permission and the neighbor asked him to leave, he instructed his son to go get a gun. I wonder why he does not have his own well on his property.

  5. Dolores Knoeller says:

    children should not be living where there isn’t any running water, electricity, bathrooms. Also 12 people living in an open tent???? The mother is also pregnant and she also gave birth to, I guess some of them in the tent?? Unbelievable!!!

  6. patsy gardunio says:

    I think that the state should not get on involved in people’s lives. it don’t matter what state you live in, cps always wants to investigate you if you are a good parent or not.

  7. Lisa Thomason says:

    How far “off the grid” are they if they are on Facebook? And how did the sheriff talk to the father on the phone? I am torn about raising a family with no utilities at all, but homeschooling is not that much of a reach – thousands of kids are homeschooled. If the children are healthy, happy, and not being subjected to anything immoral or illegal, not sure how the government can just take them away.

    • Cindy says:

      Their homeschooling consisted of letting the kids decide what they interested in learning. If they didn’t like math they didn’t have to do it. And the father was stealing water from the neighbors well. When the neighbor ask him to stop the father threatened him. If he can’t take care of the kids without stealing he shouldn’t have had them!

  8. rwp says:

    No different than the TV show Alaskan Bush People. Again government at its best. Yet we let it go on national TV where is PETA and the government and everybody else there are a lot of off the grid people quit trying to be a daddy to everyone and work o the national employment issue and feed the people at home first forget these third world countries we send all this aid to send it to Americans and maybe we can end this.

    • Cindy says:

      If they want to go off the grid that is fine, but stealing water from the neighbor AFTER the neighbor tells him NO isn’t taking care of yourself much less your kids! And then he threatened to shoot the neighbor because the neighbor said no. Not exactly taking care of himself. Most people that go off the grid can take care of themselves.

  9. Gale Patton says:

    These parents are nuts. The so called life style is “great” but they have to steal water. The woman is on her 11th pregnancy. Can you imagine what those children have been subjected to living in an open tent with no privacy.

  10. George says:

    And had they lived anywhere else in the world, they would have been left alone. As long as they do not break the law…leave them alone.

    • Cindy says:

      He was stealing water from the neighbor. There are no toilets. No running water. No electricity. They all lived in one big tent. The mother is pregnant with her 11th. How did they manager that living in a tent with all those kids? Do you really think that is healthy for those kids? Plus they were home schooling them which consisted of them letting the kids decide what they wanted to learn. There are plenty of people that live off the grid. But their kids have homes with running water, toilets, electricity and are actually home schooled.

  11. Linda Murray says:

    My heart breaks for these kid’s, they belong with their parents! I lived off grid when I received custody of my two grandsons, my conditions were better than the Naugler family, but in time they would have gotten there. And shame on the neighbor who refused to share the well water with them, it’s water for Pete sakes! As far as home schooling, it happens every day in America, actually , by home schooling their children they were protecting their children. I have lost family members in school shootings, and my eldest grandson had a gun held to his chest at school in the 5th grade. My grandson’s are young adults now and love to spend time in their childhood cabin, which by the way is still off grid. Social Services need to step back, give those kid’s back to their parents, and hope to God irreparable damage hasn’t been done, foster homes are notorious for harboring child molesters’, and people that could care less about the safety of the child and more about the income fostering children generates. These people obviously aren’t leaches on society, no welfare, or Government programs supporting them. Kinda abnormal isn’t it?

  12. DARKSTAR says:


  13. Renae says:

    I guess if the kids would have been looting and burning down businesses, they would have been left alone . But since the kids are not being brought up as little gang members, that wasn’t alright. You have NO rights any more. They NEED you to pay stupid electric bills because the government can’t balance the budget and so you now have to have things like cell phones and light bills.

  14. Tish says:

    My heart breaks for this family. I do not have the whole story, but the children seem happy and healthy. The father was wrong to threaten the neighbor, but why would you deny water from your well from little children? Where is the compassion? They live simply,and teach their children to appreciate God’s green earth. They teach them to work hard, and to love one another. Since when is this child abuse? There are plenty of parents who ignore their children, giving them gifts and money instead of real love, do not teach them morals or values, raise them to be self absorbed, and expect all the material things in life without appreciation. To me that is child neglect. Just because you live in a fancy house with expensive clothes and lifestyle does not make you a better parent. Jesus lived in the same conditions- I guess that would make Mary and Joseph neglectful parents? Shame on the authorities! Those children need the love and comfort of their parents and home-the abuse and trauma has come from being ripped from their Mother’s arms, not from living in a happy, loving home!

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