Sheriff and neighbors speak out about human trafficking case - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Sheriff and neighbors speak out about human trafficking case

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NATCHITOCHES PARISH, La. (KALB News Channel 5) - Three people have been arrested for holding a woman captive for several months. NPSO and neighbors are speaking out. 

A home in the 500 block of Dick Anderson Road in northwest Natchitoches Parish is the scene of a crime--an uncommon crime, says Natchitoches Sheriff Victor Jones.

"After 30-something years of law enforcement in this area, this is one of the most gruesome deals that I've ever heard of," said Sheriff Jones. "Never experienced anything like it before."

Detectives say two years ago a victim in her early fifties who had recently made the transition from male to female agreed to move in with a couple she met online: David Rodriguez, Jr. and his wife Christina Harper.

"The victim probably had some depression, going through the sex change, being disowned from the family" said Det. Carey Etheredge. "And whenever Rodriguez--those subjects know how to talk to them, how to prey on them, to make them feel comfortable, and make them think they're coming to live a different life."

Rodiguez helped the victim willingly move from Minnesota, but eventually, the relationship changed.

"The victim became enslaved by these folks," said Sheriff Jones. 

The victim was forced to do daily chores, hard labor and sexual acts, with beatings and humiliation as punishment from Rodriguez, Harper, and a third suspect, Ambre Lomas.

"They had built a 3 by 5 wooden box 1 38 in the master bedroom at the floor of the bed," said Det. Tim Key. "And this was her living conditions, where she slept every night."

The victim was even tattooed by the suspects and registered as a slave on a website.

"Mainly a brainwashing deal where she felt like this was normal," said Chief Investigator Greg Dunn. "This was how it should be, and everything was fine." 

Then, in late May, the victim spoke up and said she wanted to leave.

That's when her condition worsened.

"They chained her outside for two days and nights, nude, in the woods--no food, no water," said Det. Key. "And then she was put in a storage building in the yard."

Finally fed up, the victim stole the suspect's car, drove to Natchitoches, and approached a Robeline town marshal.

"Just real frantic, and a lot of fast talk," said Asst. Chief of Robeline Police Shelby Borders. "And it was just kind of hard to believe at first."

Neighbors say, Christina Harper is a local woman who grew up here, and it's a shock this happened in their town, under her roof.

"I can't imagine being locked up and chained and used as a slave; it's horrible," said Delores Mims, an Ajax resident. "This is a small community. Everybody here just about know everybody. And for something to happen like this, it's scary."

Rodriguez and Harper are facing charges including human trafficking, second degree kidnapping, battery and false imprisonment. Ambre Lomas, who is from Shreveport, has been charged with second degree kidnapping, false imprisonment, and battery.

Harper's two teenage children were also removed from the home.

The victim was treated at the hospital, released, and is now under protective custody.

Sheriff Jones says the case is still under investigation, and more charges may be on the way.

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