WILSON — In this single stoplight village in rural East Feliciana Parish, horrifying allegations surfaced this week leading police to arrest two men and issue arrest warrants for two other people accused of raping and sexually exploiting two girls inside a mobile home with living conditions authorities described as unsuitable for human life.
The disturbing claims came to light about two months after the girls, ages 3 and 7, were removed from a Grant Street mobile home and placed into foster care by the state Department of Children & Family Services.
Once the older girl grew trusting of her foster mother, police said, the girl told her she had been sexually abused at her previous home, eventually telling authorities the abuse had been happening for as long as she could remember.
“I couldn’t believe it at first,” Wilson’s mayor, Marilyn Broadway, said. “This is just terrible.”
Wilson, a village too small to support a gas station, sits a few miles south of the Mississippi border. It has about 700 residents, most of whom work outside the city, Broadway said.
The reports of rape spawned a wave of grief to roll through the tight-knit community, in which crime — what little of it there is in Wilson — consists primarily of petty thefts and drug offenses, said the Police Department’s assistant chief, T.K. Kilbourne, who couldn’t sleep once he heard the details of the grisly claims.
His boss, Chief Kenneth Stewart, declined to release details about the girls’ reports. Details not publicized in an effort to protect the girls include: the address of the mobile home, the relationship between the girls and the two men arrested, the names of the two people with warrants out for their arrest and details about the girls’ parents.
“We’re trying to be thorough in our investigation,” Stewart said.
The removal of the girls from the home came about a year after the Police Department notified DCFS of deplorable living conditions at the mobile home, said Tammy Garig, the Police Department’s spokeswoman.
When discussing details of her visit to the home, Garig cringed.
“It made me sick to my stomach,” she said.
Outside, grass stood 3 feet high and trash littered much of the property. Inside, debris polluted the residence. Soiled clothes were “stacked higher than a washing machine,” Garig said.
“You could see that there were some windows missing,” she said.
About two months ago, state social workers and police worked together to remove the girls from the home. But it wasn’t until Wednesday that police learned about the claims of sexual abuse. And by Thursday night, Joe Loyd, 42, and Darrell Anderson, 41, were booked into the East Feliciana Parish Jail on counts of aggravated rape, Garig said.
A judge set each inmate’s bail at $300,000, police said.
After authorities interviewed Loyd and Anderson on Friday, one suspect denied the accusations against him while the other admitted to some of the allegations. Garig declined to specify which man provided a confession.
Before police can execute the warrants on the other two people — one adult and one minor — “we want to do some further investigating,” Garig said.
Police expect to arrest the other two people on counts of aggravated rape sometime next week.
The department plans to look into whether other people than just the four identified so far were involved.
Sam D’Aquilla, district attorney for the Feliciana parishes, described the children’s ordeal as “a very tragic situation.”
Estella London lives a few houses down from the mobile home where the girls lived. Although she didn’t know the residents, she was both surprised and shocked after seeing news reports about the alleged abuse.
Sitting on her front porch, she asked, “Who could do something to a little child like that?”
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