Family Members Locked Autistic Woman In A Cage, Forced Her To Eat Her Mother’s Ashes
This story contains graphic descriptions of abuse. Read at your own discretion.
Danielle Pierre was trapped in a cage and horrifically abused for almost a year before police rescued her. It’s an appalling story that is made even more appalling by the fact that she was abused by people who were supposed to be her family.
Pierre was 22 years old when she was released from her captivity. Five people were arrested at the same time and charged with abusing her. However, only four ended up being sentenced to time in prison. The ringleader of the abuse was Raylaine Knope, who is related in some way to Pierre that has not been made clear. Raylaine and her husband, Terry Knope II, were each sentenced to 35 years in prison, 28 of which will be in federal custody. Jody Lambert, who is Raylaine’s son and Terry’s stepson, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. Bridget Lambert, who is Raylaine’s daughter and Terry’s stepdaughter, was sentenced to four years in prison.
Taylor Knope, who is Terry’s daughter, also pled guilty but got only probation. She was 18 at the time she was arrested, and her lawyers argued that she was also a victim of abuse by the family and needed treatment, not incarceration.
From August of 2015 to June of 2016, Pierre was held captive by members of her family.
Pierre and her mom were living with the Knope family when Pierre’s mom died. After that, Pierre, who has autism, was treated like she was less than human. She withstood horrific mental and physical abuse.
“They beat me, made me eat my momma’s ashes, shot me with a BB gun and starved me,” she said.
She was forced to live outdoors, on the Knopes’ property in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. She was locked in a tent at first, then she was moved to a padlocked shed to stop her from escaping, and then she was moved to a wire cage that the family built specifically for her, which they could attempt to hide by throwing a tarp and branches over it. She had a dirty mattress to sleep on and a five-gallon bucket to use as a toilet.
She was forced to do manual labor for the family, like cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, in order to get food and water. She sometimes had to clean with only a toothbrush, or with her bare hands. One time, she was forced to clean with her tongue.
At times, she was given only rotten food or no food at all. On different occasions, her hand was smashed with a hammer, she was held underwater in a hot tub, and burned with a cigarette lighter. Her captors sloshed sewage from the septic tank over her, drenching her in human waste. She was shot with a BB gun at close range.
When being forced to eat her own mother’s ashes, Pierre threw up. Her relatives just laughed at her.
The family took all the money Pierre had when she first moved in with them, as well as her phone and ID. Terry Knope stole from Pierre, cashing her Social Security disability checks.
She was forced to lick dirty underwear, eat dog poop, and “simulate sexual acts with a jalapeño pepper.” Her captors threatened to kill her if she tried to escape.
The family also forced Pierre to take off her clothes and “make sexual advances” to multiple male visitors. Terry and Raylaine were planning to force Pierre into prostitution as well. Thankfully, she was rescued before that happened.
The police were contacted about a woman who was potentially being held captive on the Knopes’ property and went to check it out. When they arrived, they found Pierre wandering around the backyard, starving and covered in mosquito bites.
What Pierre endured is unforgivable and nauseating. She is doing much better now that she is free of the horror she endured under the Knopes’ custody. She said that her faith in God and her support system have gotten her through these past few years. She is working towards getting her driver’s license, and says that she has forgiven the family — not for their benefit, but for hers.
“Life is good. I mean I’ve had my ups and downs and setbacks, but I’m not letting that stop me,” she said.
Learn more about this resilient woman in this video.