Teen held captive in ‘deplorable’ home

Published 10:41 am Friday, August 24, 2012

WASHINGTON PARK, Ill. (AP) — A Missouri teen reported missing more than two years ago told police she escaped a home in a decaying, crime-ridden Illinois village where she was held captive and subjected to sexual assaults that resulted in a child.

About two dozen members of a SWAT team wearing body armor and tactical gear raided the home Thursday afternoon in southwestern Illinois’ Washington Park, taking into custody a 24-year-old man and his mother.

“The conditions in there were definitely deplorable,” St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, the county’s top prosecutor, told The Associated Press on Friday after consulting with investigators at the scene.

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Police also recovered the teen’s young child, who she said was the result of rape by her captor. The child was taken away in an ambulance.

No charges had been filed as of Friday morning, though Kelly said he anticipated investigators would submit reports for his review later in the day.

Initial evidence suggests that “some of the details are consistent with what the young lady is saying, and I think there’s something to it. We’re still trying to figure out what the heck is going on,” Kelly said.

Police in St. Louis listed the teen as a missing or runaway juvenile in April 2010, when she was 15.

The teen told police she was held against her will and was beaten and sexually assaulted almost daily. She said she tried to escape several times but that her captor chased her down each time and forced her back to the home at gunpoint.

She told police she was able to escape this week with the help of a relative.

Police said the teen also told them she was forced by the man and his mother to give a false name in medical records during her pregnancy and when the child was born.

A neighbor, Lakeitha Smith, told local television stations that she saw the teen from time to time outside the house and never witnessed anything that would raise concern.

“I used to see her come out of the house, back and forth,” Smith said. “I didn’t think she was being held hostage in the house.”

Long known for its strip clubs and poverty, Washington Park — tucked on the edge of East St. Louis — has grappled for years with corruption and violent crime punctuated by the 2010 shooting death of the village’s mayor, John Thornton. A suspect in that killing was convicted in April of first-degree murder and awaits sentencing.

Washington Park, with 4,200 residents, is in one of the state’s poorest regions and twice since 2004 has filed for bankruptcy, the last time in 2009.