A Louisiana husband and wife pair admitted to the brutal abuse of a 22-year-old autistic family member who was in their care on Monday. As a result, the couple now will face up to 28 years in prison when sentenced in August.
The couple were only two of the five people facing charges as a result of the abuse. Terry Knope II, 46, and Raylaine Knope, 43, of Louisiana couple pleaded guilty to charges related to them forcing the woman to live in a locked cage outdoors. In addition, Terry Knope pleaded guilty to a hate crime admitting to shooting her with a BB gun due to her disability.
The victim began living with the couple and their adult children when her mother died in 2015. During the period of time she lived with the family, the victim received approximately $8000 in social security benefits for her disability. All of the funds were controlled by Terry Knope.
The victim was locked in the cage overnight and was released every morning so that she can do chores around the family’s mobile home in order to eat or even drink water. If the list of orders was not fulfilled in a timely and in the manner expected, the victim would be beaten by the defendants. The chores began with cleaning the home, or doing yard work but became increasingly abusive, including cutting the lawn with scissors, and cleaning the toilet with her tongue, officials said.
The victim was physically abused by Terry Knoppe, who shot the victim with a BB gun, punched her in the face, hit in the head with a metal lock and hammer, and called names. As the abuse escalated, the victim was forced to eat the ashes of her deceased mother, court documents indicated. She was psychologically abused and controlled with threats of being reported for drug abuse, when she was forced by Raylaine Knope to take drugs, including methamphetamine and prescription drugs.
The husband and wife were not the only ones to partake in the abuse against the victim, the couple’s children were also accused of being involved. Jody Lambert, 24, the couple’s son, pleaded guilty for forced labor. Court records indicate that he pointed a gun at the victim’s head and threatened to discharge the weapon if the victim did not comply. Bridget Lambert, 22, pleaded guilty to forced labor and Taylor Knope, 21, pleaded not guilty stating she was also a victim to abuse.
Bridget and Jody Lambert are also awaiting sentencing, while Taylor Knope is awaiting trial.
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