TANGIPAHOA PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Fighting back tears and saying he has never seen anything like it, the Tangipahoa Parish sheriff held a news conference Friday to update the case of a woman who was found living in a backyard cage in Amite.
Investigators arrested five people at the Rushing Lane home where the 22-year-old woman was found, and they removed four minor children. They said the suspects, who knew the victim before she lived on the property, threatened her life if she tried to leave.
Arrested are Raylaine Knope, 40; Terry Knope, 43; Taylor Knope, 18; Bridget Lambert, 19; and Jody Lambert, 21. They face charges that include human trafficking and cruelty to the infirm for allegedly conspiring to take the woman to a location where she would be forced to perform sex acts for money.
Sheriff Daniel Edwards said the victim, who is autistic and has the mental capacity of a child, may have been living on the property since October 2015. He described the structure she lived in as a 6-by-8 homemade dog kennel. Inside was a bucket that was used as a toilet and a small bowl of food. Edwards said there was no electricity or running water, and the woman was covered in insects bites.
"The degree of trauma that somebody like this goes through is probably indescribable, and something I can't imagine," Edwards said. "I would certainly ask that we all keep her in thoughts and prayers."
Investigators said the victim was found to be severely malnourished and may have lost as much as 60 pounds while she was living on the property.