Police: Missing Indiana woman kept in cage for 2 months; 2 people arrested
EVANSVILLE (Sept. 8, 2014) – A missing southern Indiana woman has been found alive after being held captive for two months.
Investigators in Posey County said Joelle Lockwood, 30, was reported missing July 9.
Two people were arrested in connection with the case, according to the Evansville Police Department. They were identified as Ricky Roy House Jr., 37, and Kendra Tooley, 44. Preliminary charges against them include rape, kidnapping, criminal confinement and conspiracy to commit rape. Investigators said Lockwood had been held captive in their mobile home and locked inside a cage.
Police said a man who’d visited the suspects got Lockwood out Saturday and brought her back to Evansville. She’s been reunited with her family.
According to the probable cause affidavit released by the Posey County Prosecutor’s Office, Lockwood left the apartment of a friend on the night of July 9 after an argument. She had been drinking that night and her friend described her as heavily intoxicated. While walking on the street, a friend saw her and offered her a ride. They “used narcotics” at a residence and then her friend dropped her off at another location to see some other friends.
She left the other house and was last seen near Park and Florida streets in Evansville. She wasn’t heard from again until Sept. 6, when police received a call from her parents saying she was alive. According to Lockwood, House and Tooley had offered her another ride on July 9. She went with them to a mobile home in Posey County. She spent some time there and then decided to leave.
It was then, according to court documents, that House “placed chloroform over her mouth and nose, causing her to lose consciousness.” Over the course of the next 59 days, she was bound to a bed and only allowed to go out on three occasions. She was forced to wear a red dog collar with a rope or leash attached to it. She was repeatedly sexually abused, court documents revealed, and beaten on multiple occasions. Contact with anyone outside the mobile home was strictly forbidden, and Lockwood told investigators the couple watched her all of the time and forced to stay in a wooden cage built by House.
A friend of House’s, Ronald Higgs, came to the trailer on Sept. 4 and visited again on Sept. 5. Lockwood confided in him that she’d been held against her will and asked him to help. On Sept. 6, he came to get her out, sparking an argument with House in which House threatened to shoot Higgs with a sawed-off shotgun. Higgs fought him off and the pair escaped the mobile home, according to court documents.
“I didn’t really know what I could do because I’m nowhere near the man I used to be, but I’m not leaving this house without her,” Higgs told WEHT/WTVW in Evansville. “I don’t care what I have to do. She’s coming home.”
Higgs, Tooley’s ex-husband, said he was visiting the couple when he had an unsettling exchange.
“She (Tooley) slid over on the couch beside me and said I’ve got a girl back here in a cage. I said you got a girl back here in a cage? What are you talking about?”
He said nothing seemed to add up. When he saw Lockwood, she was wearing a t-shirt and a dog collar with a rope tied to it. Friday night, she pleaded for help.
“She says please don’t leave here without me,” Higgs told WEHT/WTVW. “I said what’s the matter? She says I’ve been here for over 60 days and they put me in that cage.”
When interviewed by police, Tooley told investigators that House was a sadist who’d also been sexually abusive to her. She said House “was attempting to impregnate Joelle because she was old and unable to have children of her own,” according to court documents. She said the cage was “made for one of the dogs because he had torn through the wall on one occasion.” She denied any knowledge of placing Lockwood in the cage.
During a search of the mobile home, officers found bungee cords, zip ties and other types of restraints. They also located the cage, two bottles of chloroform, bed restraints and other items Lockwood described during her captivity.