Five people have been arrested on counts of human trafficking and cruelty to the infirm after investigators found a 22-year-old woman with autism being forced to live in a tarp-roofed cage in the back yard of an Amite home.
Investigators with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, searching the home in response to a complaint on June 30, found the woman wandering around the back yard of the Rushing Lane home, malnourished and suffering from numerous insect bites, spokeswoman Dawn Panepinto said in a news release Thursday.
She added that, “Over the course of the investigation, investigators discovered that the accused conspired to transport the young woman to a specific location with the intention of prostituting her out to multiple male subjects for money. This resulted in the five subjects being charged with human trafficking.”
The woman, whom authorities have not named, was often locked in the cage at night to keep her from wandering off, Panepinto said. Inside the cage — which resembled a dog kennel and was covered with a blue tarp — investigators found all of her personal belongings as well as a five-gallon bucket in which the woman was forced to defecate.
The woman was taken to an area hospital for evaluation, then placed in the care and custody of the Louisiana Department of Health’s Adult Protective Services, Panepinto said.
Four juveniles also were removed from the home and placed in the custody of Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.
Those arrested are Terry Knope, 43; Raylaine Knope, 40; Taylor Knope, 18; Jody Lambert, 21; and Bridget Lambert, 19.
Panepinto said the investigation is ongoing, and additional charges may be forthcoming.