Louisiana couple charged after locking autistic woman in cage, covering her in feces and forcing her to eat dead mother's ashes
A husband and wife have been charged with violently abusing and mistreating a young autistic woman in Louisiana by forcing her to live in an outdoor cage. The couple pleaded guilty to multiple crimes in federal court on Monday, May 20.
The pair, 46-year-old Terry Knope II and 43-year-old Raylaine Knope, both pleaded guilty in New Orleans to charges of forced labor. Court documents reveal that Terry also pleaded guilty to a hate crime charge and had shot the victim with a BB gun due to her "actual and perceived disability". The couple had to answer questions from a judge about their understanding of the plea deals.
Neither of the Knopes made a statement regarding their crime. US District Judge Carl Barbier set the sentencing for August 22 and each of the Knopes faces a possible 28-year sentence. The husband and wife duo were among a group of five charged in 2018 documents which detail the horrifying abuse that the 22-year-old victim was subjected to.
The victim was identified as a relative of Raylaine and the abuse had taken place at a home located in rural Tangipahoa Parish. Two other people have also pleaded guilty while another person has been scheduled for a July trial.
The documents show a detailed list of the abuses and tortures endured by the victim. The victim was beaten, burned with a cigarette lighter, drenched in a bucket of human excreta, and also forced to eat the cremation ashes of her dead mother. The Knope family had constantly verbally and physically abused the victim and also threatened to withhold food and water if the victim did not perform household chores.
Ahead of reaching a plea agreement, an attempted sex trafficking charge was dropped and revised charges were filed earlier this month. According to the new bill of charges, Raylaine had forced the victim to try and make sexual advances to males who visited the property. Terry pleaded guilty to concealing that there were others on the property who were manufacturing methamphetamine. Raylaine also pleaded guilty to hiding the fact that her husband was stealing the victim's social security disability payments.