Mentally ill woman and her daughter 'lived in slavery' in Ohio basement

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 June, 2013, 1:23am


A mentally disabled woman and her daughter were forced to live in an Ohio basement with snakes and pitbulls and were treated like slaves for more than two years, US prosecutors said.

The case came to light after the woman was caught stealing confectionery and told police she would rather go to jail than go home because her roommates "were mean to her".

Three of her tormentors were arrested on human trafficking charges.

"We are yet again reminded that modern-day slavery exists all around us," US attorney for the northern district of Ohio, Steven Dettelbach, said.

"The victims in this case endured violence, threats, sub-human living conditions and other horrific acts."

The woman, who was not named, was made to stay with repeated threats that her daughter - who is now five or six - would be harmed or taken away from her if she did not do as she was told, prosecutors said.

The woman and her daughter were initially forced to sleep on a cement floor in a locked basement room. They were repeatedly beaten, threatened with the pitbulls and the snakes, and watched with a baby monitor to make sure the woman would not untie her daughter's bound hands or sneak some food or water to the girl.

On at least three occasions the woman was allegedly injured so that she could get prescription painkillers for her roommates: Jordie Callahan, 26 and Jessica Hunt, 31.

They also shaved her head and wrote insulting words on her face and chest with a permanent marker at one point, charging papers said.

The lengthy list of chores included taking care of a menagerie that included a poisonous coral snake, a ball python and a Burmese python that weighed 60kg.

"The streets are a lot safer with these folks locked up," Ashland police chief David Marcelli said.

Also charged in the case was Daniel Brown, 33.