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Ohio: Mother and daughter held captive in room with iguanas and pitbulls for over a year

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CLEVELAND, United States - Three people from a small town 60 miles from Cleveland have been arrested for holding captive a mentally disabled woman and her daughter for over a year. Jordie Callahan, 26, Jessica Hunt, 31, and Daniel Brown, 33, were arrested and charged with forced labor.

According to CNN,  the mother and her daughter were “persuaded” to move into the suspects’ house in May 2011. They lived in ‘subhuman conditions’ in a room with an iguana and pit bulls. The mother and daughter lived in fear of being attacked by the animals for something as minimal as a small bathroom accident.  

Police officers learnt about the two women’s plight last October when the mother, identified as S.E., was caught shoplifting a candy bar. She was arrested, charged and forced to spend time in jail until February. It was during her time in jail that officers realized that there was more to S.E. than just being a candy shoplifter.

During the mother’s time in jail officers found out S.E. had other issues. The people she was staying with had had more than one brush with the law.  David Marcelli, Ashland Police Chief, said: “The officers that took that complaint detected that there was other issues aside from the shoplifting.” 

According to F.B.I. agents, the woman already knew her captors when she was told to move in with them. Callahan and Hunt knew S.E. was on “monthly public assistance payments” and would use the money to do the shopping, clean the house and buy food for their many animals.

A criminal complaint stated that the three suspects  ”preyed upon” the woman’s inability and “her desire to protect her child.” The complaint adds that S.E. and her daughter were treated “worse than the animals” that were in the house. Hunt and Callahan are a couple while Brown is a friend.

Steven Dettelbach, an attorney for the Northern District of Ohio told CNN: “(We’re) talking about people who were locked in rooms, forced to work all the time, people who were threatened and beaten and injured, people who were exploited, people who had their money and benefits stolen, sort of used as pawns to get drugs.”

Currently, the child is in custody of chid services and the mother has been held for her shoplifting sentence. The suspects have been charged by the US attorney once the state charges were dropped.

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