A husband and wife charged with abusing an young autistic woman in Louisiana while forcing her to live in an outdoor cage pleaded guilty Monday to numerous crimes in federal court.
According to court documents obtained by CrimeOnline, Terry Knope II, 46, and Raylaine Knope, 43, pleaded guilty to forced labor charges in connection with the horrific torture of an autistic relative. Terry Knope II pleaded guilty to an additional charge of a hate crime after he admitted to shooting the victim with a BB gun because of her “actual and perceived disability.”
The victim, identified only as D.P., lived with the defendants at their home off of Rushing Landing in Amite. D.P. began living with the pair in 2015, after her mother passed away. Court documents indicate the 22-year-old victim is Raylaine Knope’s family member.
Shortly after the victim moved in, Terry and Raylaine Knope began forcing her to do manual labor around their mobile home, including “yard work for food and water.” The pair also forced D.P to clean the residence daily without paying her, although Terry Knope pocketed over $8,000 from the victim’s Social Security benefits.
The defendants forced D.P. to sleep outside in a tent, then later moved her her into a chicken wire cage when she tried to run away. After trying to escape, the victim was beaten and threatened with death. The couple put a tarp over the wired cage to keep it out of sight. The victim was then was padlocked inside the cage at night. She was let out in the morning to clean up and do any work the couple demanded of her.
Knope Indictment by on Scribd
The defendants later began forcing D.P. to perform demeaning tasks, such as cleaning a toilet with her tongue and cutting the lawn with a pair of scissors. If she didn’t complete the work to the couple’s satisfaction, they would beat her and deny her food. Terry Knoppe once hit the victim in the hand with a hammer and shot her at close range with a BB gun.
Further, the victim was punched in the face, hit in the head with a metal lock, called “stupid” and “retarded” and forced to eat her deceased mother’s ashes, according to court documents. She was also forced by Raylaine Knope to take meth and prescription painkillers. Raylaine Knope then threatened to turn the victim into authorities for drug use if she didn’t obey.
At one point, the couple’s son, 24-year-old Jody Lambert, who previously pleaded guilty to federal forced labor charges, pointed a gun at D.P.’s head and threatened “to shoot D.P. if D.P. did not obey his orders.”
The couple’s two other children, identified as Bridget Lambert, 22, and Taylor Knope, 21, are also accused of abusing the victim. While Bridget Lambert previously pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection to forced labor, Taylor Knope has pleaded not guilty.
Taylor Knope’s attorney said that her parents forced her to quit school, cook meth, and also live outside of the home, in a shed behind the family trailer. Taylor Knope claimed she followed orders because she was scared of punishment. Federal charges are still pending against her.
Both Terry and Raylaine Knope face a possible sentence of 28 years each in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for August 22. The two other defendants who pleaded guilty are still awaiting sentencing.
[Featured Photo: Terry Knope, Bridget Lambert, Jody Lambert, Raylaine Knope, and Taylor Knope (pictured left to right)/Police handout]