A Lousiana family is facing multiple federal charges for alleged abuse that entailed caging an autistic female relative, subjecting her to sex trafficking—and even forcing her to eat her recently-deceased mother’s ashes.
According to NOLA.com, the 22-year-old female victim and her four relatives moved from the victim’s mother’s Kentwood home to a mobile home in Amite in August 2015, following the victim’s mother’s death. Court records alleged that the abuse began a day after her death.
A six-count indictment detailed 10 months’ of unthinkable abuse allegedly carried out by mother Raylaine Knope, 42, along with her husband, Terry J. Knope II, 45, and their children, Jody Lambert, 23, and Taylor Knope, 20. Raylaine’s daughter, Bridget Lambert, 21, was also charged in a separate bill for her apparent role in a forced-labor conspiracy. The victim’s relationship to her alleged abusers wasn’t specified in court documents.
The Amite family are accused of shooting the victim with a BB gun, covering her with the contents of the home’s septic tank, feeding her dog feces on bread, and forcing her to take methamphetamine. Authorities also detailed one incident where Raylaine poured the victim’s mother’s ashes into a cereal bowl with milk and forced the victim to eat it as the family laughed. The victim reportedly vomited minutes later.
Raylaine was identified in the indictment as the ringleader of the abuse. The family was often under her direction when they coerced the victim into doing house and yard work for no pay—and withheld food as punishment for subpar work, according to court documents. The indictment also indicated that the family also forced her to make sexual advances to several men in a sex-trafficking ring.
To prevent her from escaping, Terry reportedly held on to nearly $8,800 worth of the victim’s Social Security payments, which accrued over an 11-month period. Meanwhile, Raylaine took the woman’s cellphone, identification card, and laptop.
The family also used fear to prevent the victim from fleeing the home. In addition to threatening to kill her on a regular basis, they allegedly beat the victim, held a gun to her head, holding her hand to fire, and pushing her underwater as she struggled to breathe.
The Advocate reported that, on one instance, Bridget had hit the victim in the head with a wood board, causing a deep laceration that drew blood. Instead of taking her to a doctor, one of the relatives reportedly used glue to close the wound.
By the time police found the victim in June 2016, she was covered in bug bites, malnourished, and living in a 6-by-8-foot chicken-wire cage outside her relatives’ home, according to the newspaper. Before the cage, the family allegedly kept her in a tent and shed.
The victim was ultimately placed into the custody of Louisiana Department of Health’s Adult Protective Services while four minor children living in the home were placed with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.
According to The Advocate, the Louisana family were federally indicted on the following charges:
- Raylaine Knope: conspiring to obtain forced labor, forced labor, using force and threats of force to interfere with federal Fair Housing Act rights, and attempted sex trafficking.
- Terry Knope: conspiring to obtain forced labor, forced labor, using force and threats of force to interfere with federal Fair Housing Act rights, attempted sex trafficking, and a hate crime.
- Jody Lambert and Taylor Knope: conspiring to obtain forced labor, forced labor, and using force and threats of force to interfere with federal Fair Housing Act rights.
- Bridget Lambert: (separately charged) conspiring to obtain forced labor, which has a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.
[Featured Image: Terry Knope, Bridget Lambert, Jody Lambert, Raylaine Knope, and Taylor Knope (pictured left to right)/Police handout]