Five people in Louisiana are facing federal charges for keeping their autistic relative in a cage and forcing her to eat her mother’s ashes, authorities announced Thursday.
The Justice Department announced Thursday that four of the suspects—Raylaine Knope, 42, Terry J. Knope, II, 45, Jody Lambert, 23, and Taylor Knope, 20—face multiple charges including attempted sex trafficking, forced labor, and theft of government funds and face a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The fifth suspect, Bridget Lambert, 21, was charged with forced labor conspiracy, which carries a maximum penalty of five years behind bars.
Authorities say the suspects kept the 22-year-old female victim, who has not been identified, in a cage placed outside the home where the five relatives lived and forced her to consume the cremated remains of her late mother.
Prosecutors say the five suspects subjected the victim to sexual abuse, forced labor, beatings, and had plans to make the woman a prostitute.
The suspects also allegedly denied the victim access to a computer or a phone and drugged her with methamphetamine and painkillers.
“The degree of trauma that someone like this goes through is probably indescribable,” Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards said in a statement.
Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies found the victim after someone filed a report with the police. The woman and her mother lived with the suspects until the mother passed away in 2015.
When authorities made the arrests, the victim was placed in the care of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals protective services.