By James Ewinger, The Plain Dealer
on June 18, 2013 at 1:25 PM, updated June 18, 2013 at 2:18 PM
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A mentally disabled woman and her child were held captive for two years by three people in the central Ohio community of Ashland, according to federal labor-trafficking charges announced today.The woman and her child were forced to live in a basement with pit bulls and pythons, according to the charges released at a news conference by Steven Dettelbach, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.
Dettelbach said the woman was beaten, threatened and forced into slavery. Some of the threats included telling the woman she would be attacked by the animals.
"These individuals preyed upon a human being with a disability," Dettelbach said. "They treated her worse than the animals in that house."
Named in the charges are Jordie Callahan, 26, Jessica Hunt, 31, and Daniel J. Brown, 33, all from Ashland.
Court records indicate that a fourth person has been charged. Dettelbach's office declined comment today on why that person was not named in today's announcement.
Officials said the woman managed to free herself last October by stealing a candy bar so she would be arrested.
At the news conference, an Ashland police lieutenant said the woman had suffered a brain injury at age 16 that left her with the mental capacity of a girl of 13 or 14.
Ashland County authorities charged Callahan and Hunt with complicity, abduction, two counts of kidnapping and two counts of extortion. Callahan was also charged with three counts of illegally possessing a weapon.
The state charges against them were filed in January and dismissed today because of the pending federal case.The Justice Department has declined to prosecute Ariel Castro, who is facing similar charges in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. Castro is accused of holding three women captive in his Cleveland home for more than a decade. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Court records also show that when Callahan was 15, he was found delinquent by reason of rape for sexual conduct with an 11-year-old girl. (Read an appeals ruling in that case in the document viewer below)
Callahan's Facebook page included photographs of him playing with what appear to be pythons. The page also indicates that he and Hunt were engaged.
Ashland, a community of 20,000 in rural Ashland County, is 65 miles southwest of Cleveland.