Woman with autism kept in cage, suffered horrible abuse at hands of family of 5
WXIN / Tangipahoa Parish

By Erin Lowrey, WAFB

AMITE CITY, La. -- (WVUE) -- An Amite woman with autism suffered horrific abuse at the hands of a five-member family, according to court documents.

The family members were accused of the abuse in federal court on Thursday. The indictment alleged that the head of the family, 42-year-old Raylaine Knope, was the instigator of most of the abuse.

Warning: Graphic content

Raylaine has been accused of forcing the victim to do house and yard work in exchange for food and water.

The indictment also charged Raylaine's husband, 45-year-old Terry J. Knope II, and their children, 23-year-old Jody Lambert and 20-year-old Taylor Knope. Bridget Lambert, 21, was charged separately.

It was unclear how the victim is related to the family.

Court documents revealed that the abuse began in August 2015 shortly after the victim's mother died.

The 22-year-old victim was held in a shed before she was moved to a cage in the backyard.

The family members were accused of shooting the victim with a BB gun, covering her with the contents from a septic tank, and forcing her to eat her recently deceased mother's cremated remains from a cereal bowl, according to court documents.

The victim was also ordered to make sexual advances to men in a sex-trafficking scheme, according to the indictment. Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards said the prostitution plan was outlined by the family on social media.

According to the indictment, the family would threaten the victim with violence so she wouldn't escape.

The family is also accused of holding a gun to the victim's head, holding her hand to a flame, and holding her underwater in a hot tub.

Raylaine kept $8,800 of the victim's Social Security payments and confiscated the victim's state-issued ID, cellphone and laptop, according to court documents.

The cage was built out of chicken wire and tarp, and did not have running water or electricity. The cage had a mattress, some personal belongings and a five-gallon bucket for a toilet, according to Edwards. As the abuse continued, the mattress was taken away and the victim was forced to sleep in a tent.

Terry and Jody were also accused in the indictment of throwing a bucket of human waste on the victim.

MORE ACCUSATIONS: GRAPHIC: Woman with autism kept in cage, forced to eat mother's ashes - WAFB