The FBI has charged four people in connection with a case of “modern-day slavery” in Ashland, Ohio.
At a press conference Tuesday, federal prosecutors and detectives from the Ashland Police Department said the mother and her 6-year-old child were subjected to beatings, death threats and reptile attacks during their two-year captivity.
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.
Police found out about the captivity after the mother was caught shoplifting a candy bar and she asked to be taken 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 labour on Monday, Cleveland news station WKYC reports. A fourth person has also been charged, but his or her name has not been released.
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. The suspects 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.
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 kidnapped from the same neighbourhood at different times.
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