Mother and Child Freed From ‘Modern-day Slavery’

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CLEVELAND -- Federal officials announced charges against three Ashland residents alleged to have held a cognitively disabled woman and her young daughter against their will for more than two years.

The conspiracy allegedly included beating the disabled woman and her child, threatening the woman with a firearm, threatening to kill her and her child, and threatening them with large snakes.

The woman and her child were also forced to sleep in a padlocked room with a large iguana.

Jordie Callahan, 26, Jessica Hunt, 31, and Daniel Brown III, 33, were all arrested Tuesday morning and charged with forced labor. Officials said the three forced the victim to clean the house and do other chores; while they denied her and her 5-year-old daughter freedom.

Callahan is charged with an additional count of tampering with a witness.

A fourth person has been charged but officials are not yet releasing that person's name.

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

FBI agents as well as police officers from Ashland, Canton, and Alliance arrested the three.

The victim escaped after stealing a candy bar. Once in police custody she told an officer about her living conditions.

FBI Agent Eric Smith said during a press conference that the alleged crimes were "disgusting." "Suffice to say, these victims were repeatedly exposed to sub-human living conditions, such as regularly being denied meals, bathroom visits; and they were threatened not only with weapons but also with vicious animals like pit bulls and pythons."

The victims have been free from the defendants since October and are now doing okay.

Steven Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, said the crimes were "modern-day slavery."

The suspects were in court Tuesday afternoon, are being held in jail. They are due back in court next week.