Autistic woman allegedly caged, forced to eat dead mother's ashes; 5 face federal charges

From left: Terry Knope, 45; Bridget Lambert, 21; Taylor Knope, 20; Raylaine Knope, 42; and Jody Lambert, 23, face federal charges. (Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Five Louisiana residents face federal charges for allegedly imprisoning and abusing an autistic woman, two years after they were arrested on state charges in the case.

Authorities said the 22-year-old victim was kept in a cage outside a Tangipahoa Parish home and was forced to eat the cremation ashes of her late mother.

Prosecutors said the suspects subjected her to forced labor, beatings and sexual abuse, and that two suspects planned to make her a prostitute.

A Justice Department statement says four suspects face charges including labor and housing law violations: Raylaine Knope, Terry J. Knope II, Jody Lambert and Taylor Knope face possible life sentences.

Bridget Lambert faces a conspiracy charge with a maximum five-year sentence.

All are in custody. Defense attorneys declined comment or didn't immediately respond Friday.