3 accused of enslaving mother, girl in Ohio
ASHLAND, Ohio — A mentally disabled woman charged with shoplifting a candy bar asked to be jailed because three people “had been mean to her” — then went on to tell authorities about her time spent in unfathomably cruel servitude, along with her young daughter, at the hands of three people, authorities said Tuesday.
On several occasions, according to an FBI affidavit, the suspects injured her and ordered her to go to an emergency room for pain medication they would then take for themselves.
The 29-year-old woman was forced to do housework under the threat of harm to her and her child by her captors' pet python or pit bull, authorities allege, and a menagerie of snakes was put in the terrified 5-year-old's face until she cried.
Authorities announced federal charges Tuesday against three people they say invited the woman and her child, whose names were withheld, to live with them and, beginning in early 2011, forced the mother to cooperate with them by threats and physical abuse.
The woman and her daughter were freed in October after police investigated an abuse allegation one of the suspects made against her, authorities said, and they are doing well.
“The victim in this case is slowly recovering,” U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach said.
Jordie Callahan, 26, Jessica Hunt, 31, and Daniel J. “DJ” Brown, 33, all of Ashland, were charged with forced labor. Callahan also was charged with tampering with a witness in the investigation.
The suspects had an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Cleveland and were ordered jailed until a bond hearing on Monday.
Andrew Hyde, who represented Callahan on related state kidnapping charges that were dismissed Tuesday as the federal case was announced, called the charges ludicrous and said the woman at the center of the alleged forced-labor plot moved in and out as she pleased.
“There was never any forced labor, any forced co-habitation. She was never forced to do anything. She used this story to get out of trouble she was in” with regard to a child-abuse allegation, Hyde said.
Hyde said county social service workers placed the girl with her mother when the woman was living with the three suspects.
A federal court lawyer for Callahan declined comment. A second defense attorney, Ed Bryan, said Hunt will plead not guilty and said there are credibility issues with the mother.
There was no immediate response to phone and email messages left for the attorney representing Brown.
According to an FBI affidavit, the mother and child were denied food at times or given leftovers; on one occasion when they hadn't eaten all day, the mother was given a plate of food and ordered to feed the pet dog.
The trio looted the woman's bank account and public assistance and on several occasions injured her and ordered her to go to the emergency room for pain medication, the affidavit said.
The woman told investigators the trio learned of her plan to try to escape and punished her by shaving her hair into a Mohawk and using a marker to write “slut,” “tramp” and “whore” on her face and chest. She was forced to clean up the hair without a broom or dust pan, according to the affidavit.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Worries mount of unleashed ‘Taliban 5’
- Defense chief says U.S. can fly over South China Sea
- Growth potential remains for online gambling
- Army lab sent at least 1 live batch of anthrax
- IRS believes identity thieves are from Russia
- Charged Baltimore officers seek change of venue
- Morgan settles lawsuit with Wal-Mart over crash
- Lawyer argues in New York court that chimpanzees have same rights as humans
- Cleanup begins from deadly flooding in Texas amid continuing rain
- Fossils point to relative of ‘Lucy’ species
- Nebraska lawmakers ban death penalty