Thursday, August 8, 2013
Who's Your Neighbor? Special Needs Mom & Child Held Captive and Used as Slaves
At a press conference Tuesday, federal prosecutors and detectives from the Ashland Police Department said a mother and her 6-year-old child were held captive in a house for two years and subjected to beatings, death threats, and reptile attacks.
Prosecutors have charged three people in connection with a case of alleged "modern-day slavery" in Ashland, Ohio.At a press conference Tuesday, federal prosecutors and detectives from the Ashland Police Department said a mother and her 6-year-old child were held captive in a house for two years and subjected to beatings, death threats, and reptile attacks.
Officials at the news conference broadcast by WKYC said the captors "recruited the victims" to come live with them. The mother — whose name has not been released — had "significant physical vulnerabilities" and became disabled after a childhood injury and functions at the level of a 13- or 14-year-old, officials said.
The mother received monthly public assistance payments. The suspects allegedly took over the mother's government benefits cards and PIN numbers and used the money for themselves, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.
Police found out about the captivity after the mother was caught shoplifting a candy bar and she asked to be taken to jail (which, as federal prosecutors pointed out, is unusual).
Jordie Callahan, 26, Jessica Hunt, 31, and Daniel Brown, 33, were arrested and charged with forced labor on Monday, Cleveland news station WKYC reports.
Federal officials said more charges are likely to come later on in the investigation, which is still ongoing.
The mother and her child were allegedly starved, forced to sleep on a cement floor in a padlocked room, clean the house, do laundry, and do yard work, according to 19 Action News reporter Scott Taylor. They were threatened with a 130-pound python and other reptiles, prosecutors said.
The suspects also allegedly forced the mother to hit her child, recorded it on video and said that if they ever tried to leave the video would be shown to police.
The suspects also allegedly took money from the mother's checking account and used her prescriptions. Callaham and Hunt allegedly injured the mother on multiple occasions to obtain prescriptions for pain medication such as Vicodin, according to the DOJ release.
Ohio was in the news recently for another case of people being held captive in a house for years. Three young women were held captive in a Cleveland house for about a decade after they were all allegedly kidnapped from the same neighborhood at different times.