Police in Louisiana say an autistic woman was found caged in a backyard, and now multiple people have been arrested in association with the disturbing discovery. CBS News reports that all five suspects in this case face charges related to human trafficking.
Authorities responded to an Amite, Louisiana, residence after getting reports about a person possibly being kept caged in a backyard. Police allege that this is exactly what they found. The autistic woman, only 22 years old, was found in the backyard cage. Authorities say that she was malnourished and covered in bug bites from being kept out in the elements in her prison. The identity of the woman hasn’t been published, but the Chicago Tribune reports that the five people arrested for keeping her in the cage had horrifying intentions in mind when they began holding her captive.
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Police say that 43-year-old Terry Knope, 40-year-old Raylaine Knope, 18-year-old Taylor Knope, 21-year-old Jody Lambert, and 19-year-old Bridget Lambert worked together in keeping the autistic woman captive. What’s more, the accused suspects planned on prostituting the woman in order to make money off of her, while keeping her caged in the backyard of their residence. Police have revealed that the 22-year-old woman had been living in the cage on the property since October 2015 — nearly a year of alleged neglect and possible human trafficking. Also, four juveniles were removed from the home at the time of the reported rescue of the captive woman. Authorities have not clarified on whether or not child neglect, endangerment, or abuse charges could stem from this.
This is not the first time a person with special needs has been rescued from similarly horrifying situations. In 2015, an Argentina man was put on trial after authorities discovered that he had kept both his wife and autistic son in a cage for multiple years. Not only was he accused of caging his wife and adult son, but he also allegedly forced the young man to eat dog food and drink gasoline. The horrifying case shocked authorities, including the prosecutor, who said during the trial, “To enter that house is to witness true madness.”
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Also last year, a Missouri couple were sentenced to seven years of imprisonment, after they reportedly caged their 6-year-old autistic son in the basement of their home. The conviction came approximately five years after authorities discovered the special needs child living in deplorable conditions. The young child was kept in a urine- and feces-soaked enclosure, and he was suffering from neglect.
This year a Utah man was convicted of sexually abusing a woman with Down Syndrome. The incident took place in 2015, when the 20-year-old special needs woman was lured into a travel trailer by the 49-year-old Utah man. It was there that she was made to watch pornography before he inappropriately touched her. When he was done, he told her not to tell anybody about what had happened. Too bad for him, she did tell. Rodney Ben Trujillo will serve at least five years in prison for his crimes.
As for this latest case out of Louisiana, all five suspects have been arrested and charged with human trafficking. They were also charged with crimes associated with cruelty to the infirm (special needs or persons in need of care). Reports haven’t indicated whether or not the five suspects charged in this horrifying incident are being held on bond. Police have confirmed, however, that the investigation in this case is ongoing. Furthermore, the five suspects could potentially face more charges.
[Images via Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Dept.]