An Indiana couple accused of holding a woman captive for two months, often locking her in a small wooden cage, was charged Monday with rape, criminal confinement, kidnapping and other felonies in a case one officer likened to "modernized slavery."
Ricky Roy House Jr., 37, and his girlfriend, Kendra Tooley, 44, were formally charged during a hearing in Posey Circuit Court in Mount Vernon, where a judge appointed public defenders for the pair and entered not guilty pleas on their behalf. They were ordered held on $50,000 cash-only bonds.
Police arrested the couple early Sunday at their mobile home in rural southwestern Indiana about six hours after Tooley's ex-husband, who was visiting the couple, freed the 30-year-old woman, whose relatives had reported her missing July 13. He took the victim to his Evansville apartment, where she called her mother and police.
The Evansville woman's ordeal began July 9 when House, an acquaintance, saw her walking and picked her up. She agreed to go to the home he shared with Tooley in Stewartsville, about 25 miles northwest of Evansville, according to a probable cause affidavit.
But when the woman got up to leave, House used chloroform to knock her unconscious, the affidavit states, and she awoke to find herself bound to a bed in the trailer and her clothing cut off.
According to the charges, during the woman's 59 days of captivity, House sexually her several times, made her wear a dog collar with a rope and eventually built a small wooden cage where she was kept for long durations.
Tooley, who is also accused of raping the woman and preventing her from leaving the trailer, told police House was trying to impregnate the woman because Tooley "was old and unable to have children of her own."
The victim told officers that House would rape her after binding her to an "intricate restraint system" that included zip ties and bungee cords attached to a bed and beat her numerous times with a belt and other items.
Posey County chief deputy sheriff Tom Latham said the woman also was forced to cook and clean for House and Tooley when she wasn't locked in the cage, where she was given little food and water.
"It was pretty much modernized slavery in my eyes," Latham told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
He said Tooley's ex-husband, Ron Higgs of Evansville, visited the mobile home after Tooley contacted him last week asking him for money.
According to the affidavit, the victim told Higgs last Friday that she was being held against her will and Higgs promised to return and free her. When Higgs came back the next day, Latham said Higgs offered House additional money if he could take the woman, but House put a shotgun to Higgs' chin and threatened to kill him.
Higgs eventually persuaded House and Tooley to let him take the woman, promising not to alert police, Latham said.
Higgs told WEHT-TV the woman pleaded with him for help.
"She says, 'Please don't leave here without me.' I said, 'What's the matter?' She says, I've been here for over 60 days and they put me in that cage,'" Higgs told the station.