On the other side of the Gulf of Mexico, authorities are investigating another case of negligent caretakers after an autistic woman was found housed in a cage outside of a Louisiana home. This comes just days after an elderly woman was allegedly left in a Tampa Bay apartment to die, while her live-in caretakers abandoned the roach-infested residence.
The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office on June 30 conducted a search warrant on an Amite, Louisiana residence after fielding complaints about a 22-year-old autistic woman being kept inside a cage outside the property.
The sheriff's office arrested and levied charges — cruelty to the infirm and human trafficking — on Terry Knope (43), Raylaine Knope (40), Taylor Knope (18), Bridget Lambert (19) and Jody Lambert (21).
Authorities are investigating the group for human trafficking charges because there is evidence that the suspects had arranged to take the woman to a prearranged destination with the intent of prostituting her to several males.
The 22-year-old victim was found wandering around a backyard near a cage draped in a tarp, in which she's believed to have been housed at night. The responding officers indicated that she appeared malnourished and was covered in insect bites.
Supporting the belief that she was forced to live in the cage, the sheriff's deputies discovered a bucket, used as a toilet, and the woman's personal belongings. She's believed to have been housed in the cage since October 2015.
"It blows my mind because in a year's time, I never saw the girl, never," said Rocky Stewart, a neighbor.
The woman, and four juveniles, were placed in protective services.
A few days earlier, Tampa Bay authorities took two caretakers into custody for allegedly leaving a 66-year-old woman in a roach-infested apartment.
Jennifer Poulos, 41, and Debra Poulos, 61, were both charged with a count each of neglect of an elderly or a disabled adult.
The three had been living in the apartment for about eight months, before the two younger women apparently decided they couldn't take the living conditions there anymore.
The women told Gulfport police that they had moved out of the apartment about eight to 10 days before the elder woman passed away. Police found that the cluttered apartment had no clear path for the frail woman to safely navigate any of the rooms.
The younger Poulos reportedly has a 4-year-old son who had been residing in the residence before the two women abandoned their ward and the apartment. The child has been placed in protective services.