His voice cracking with emotion, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards explained in horrid detail Friday (July 8) how five Amite residents kept a 22-year-old woman with autism locked in a cage for as long as nine months, forced her to perform sex acts and threatened to kill her if she tried to get away. The woman lost about 60 pounds during her ordeal, which ended June 30 when sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant at residence on Rushing Lane and freed her from her captors.
“The lesson here is there are some sick individuals in this world, and there are some sick individuals in Tangipahoa Parish,” said Edwards, sheriff since 2004. “This is not a good day for Tangipahoa Parish.”
Booked with human trafficking and cruelty to the infirm were Terry Knope, 43; Raylaine Knope, 40; Taylor Knope, 18; Bridget Lambert, 19; and Jody Lambert, 21. Terry and Raylaine Knope are married, and the other three suspects are step siblings, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said.
Edwards said the victim lived with her mother until the mother died in August. He would not say how she came under the control of the suspects, who are distant relatives. Investigators think they might have held the woman captive since October, allowing her to wander around the property by day but threatening her life if she ran away.
The woman was forced to live in a makeshift shelter that consisted of a blue tarp draped over a 6-by-8-foot cage resembling a dog kennel. The cage, which had no electricity or running water, contained a mattress, all of the woman’s personal belongings and a five-gallon bucket into which she would defecate, Edwards said. A small bowl used the feed her was found.
Edwards said the woman, who has the functional capacity of a child, was made to perform sexual acts on others. The suspects were moving to force her into prostitution, a plan evident on social media, he said.
“The degree of trauma … is unimaginable,” Edwards said, pausing during a news conference to gain control of his emotions. “It’s something I can’t imagine.”
Since being freed, the woman has been evaluated at a local hospital and placed in the care of the Louisiana Health Department. In addition to the woman, four children younger than 7 were removed from the Amite residence and placed in the care of the state, officials said. While the children were exposed to atrocious living conditions, it does not appear that they were sexually abused, the sheriff said. He would not say whether the children were related to the suspects or their captive.
Edwards said he’s read about such cases in other parts of the United States but has never seen first hand anything like it in his career. “A real tragedy was going on right here,” he said.
Source:: Google – Health]]>