Natchitoches sheriff: Slave case one of 'most gruesome deals' seen
Even veteran law enforcement officers had never seen anything like
this. A transgender woman allegedly held as a slave, degraded and
tortured. All in their quiet backyard of rural Natchitoches Parish.
30-something years of law enforcement in this area, this is probably
one of the most gruesome deals that I’ve ever heard of, and I never
experienced anything like it before,” said Sheriff Victor Jones Jr. “I
always say, by the time you think you’ve seen it all, something else
comes along and takes place.”
enforcement officials shared more details Friday in the disturbing case
where three people allegedly kept a transgender woman captive in the
suspects — David Rodriguez Jr., 37, and Christina Marie Harper, 39, both
of Pleasant Hill, and Ambre Tubbs Lomas, 39, of Shreveport — were being
held on charges including human trafficking and kidnapping.
The victim is in her early 50s and from Minnesota. She is being held in protective custody with her identity protected.
met Rodriguez and Harper, who are married, online and agreed to move
across the country to their secluded mobile home about two years ago.
this particular case, the victim probably had some depression, going
through the sex change, being disowned by her family,” said Carey
Etheredge, criminal investigator and forensic examiner with the
Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office. “Suspects prey on people in this
situation. They know how to talk to them, what to say to them to make
them feel comfortable and make them think they’re coming to live a
a time, investigators say, the relationship was consensual, though the
victim lived in conditions many would find appalling and was subjected
to physical and mental abuse.
slept in a 3-by-5 foot wooden box and was used to perform menial tasks
and sexual acts. She was tattooed with a mark identifying her as a slave
and registered on a website that bills itself as only registering
people for consensual submissive or slave relationships.
Investigators still are trying to pinpoint which acts the victim may
have been coerced to perform and how long ago any coercion began. What
is clear, they say, is she recently clearly stated a desire to leave.
On hearing that, NPSO Detective Tim Key said, her captors “became enraged.”
“A 35-foot chain was put around her neck and she was locked up when she made that comment,” Key said.
victim was kept chained outside, nude, for two days and two nights with
no food or water, Key said. She was later moved, still chained, to a
storage building. While being held in this manner, she suffered beatings
and had urine thrown on her.
several days in the storage building, investigators said, the victim
was able to break free, took one of the suspects’ vehicles and drove
down Interstate 49 to exit 138, where several brightly lit businesses
are located just off the highway. As it happened, Shelby Borders,
assistant police chief for the town of Robeline, was parked at a gas
station there in his marked vehicle.
The victim approached him.
was a shock to start with,” Borders said. “She stated she had been held
captive. She was real frantic. There was a lot of fast talk. I had
never seen anything to this extent before. My initial reaction was to
focus on the needs at hand — make sure the scene was safe, see if anyone
was following the victim and meet her medical needs.”
After the victim was treated for injuries including bruises and lacerations, she began telling her story to investigators.
and Harper both were charged with one count of human trafficking, one
count of aggravated second-degree battery, one count of second-degree
kidnapping/false imprisonment and two counts of offenses against
computer users. Their bonds were set at $635,000 each.
who investigators say was friends with Harper and Rodriguez, was
charged with one count of human trafficking, one count of aggravated
second-degree battery, one count of second-degree kidnapping/false
imprisonment and two counts of offenses against computer users.
Investigators said the suspects have spoken to officers, but declined
to provide details about their statements. All three were being held
Friday in the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center.
trafficking can be up to 10 years, and there are several other charges
that have very significant hard labor sentences,” said Assistant
District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington.
a search of the residence in the 500 block of Dick Anderson Road near
Ajax, deputies seized 15 firearms and a stun gun, as well as video and
computer equipment. Investigators are still going through material on
the electronics to see if there is potentially incriminating evidence.
Two teenagers, children of Harper’s, were removed from the scene by the State Office of Child Protective Services.
Investigators said more charges could be coming.
joint statement issued Friday by Louisiana Trans Advocates and Equality
Louisiana read, in part, “The deprivation of freedom and basic human
dignity demonstrated in this case serve as a reminder that things like
this happen in the cities and parishes of our state and are far too
often ignored by the media and law enforcement. It is not uncommon for
transgender women to be subjected to violence that results in their
death. LGBT people, people of color, women and many other populations
experience unacceptable treatment on a daily basis. This woman survived,
while many women do not.http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20140607/NEWS01/306070024/Natchitoches-sheriff-Slave-case-one-most-gruesome-deals-seen?gcheck=1&nclick_check=1