Ashland Enslavement Case

More Stories and Information

Hunt said she tried to help alleged victim; defense rests case - Jessica L. Hunt, one of two people accused of imprisoning and abusing a mentally challenged woman, today testified that she was trying to help the 30 year old.
Police officers testify about rape allegations - Ashland police officers testified Monday about their investigation into the alleged force labor and imprisonment of a cognitively-impaired woman and her five-year-old daughter by Jessica L. Hunt, 31, and Jordie L. Callahan, 26.
Co-defendant says alleged victim routinely abused, denied food - A codefendant in the labor trafficking trial of Jessica L. Hunt, 31, and Jordie L. Callahan, 26, testified Friday that he used his previous romantic relationship with the cognitively impaired alleged victim to lure her back to her alleged abusers after she had escaped the squalid basement where she was imprisoned along with her 5-year-old daughter.
Officials fail to see alleged victims when they visit Ashland home - Social workers made several visits to an Ashland home during the time that federal prosecutors allege the tenants were imprisoning and abusing a cognitively-impaired woman and her 5 year-old daughter.
Defense attorneys say revenge motivated alleged victim - An attorney representing a man accused of raping and torturing a cognitively impaired woman today tried to paint his client as a victim.
Woman allegedly held by an Ashland couple testifies - A woman who prosecutors say was imprisoned by an Ashland couple testified Tuesday in federal court that her captors held her against her will by using violence, rape and humiliation.
Prosecutors create model of enslavement house - The house at 509 W. Main St., Ashland, which has three apartments, is where defendants Jordie L. Callahan, 26, and Jessica L. Hunt, 31, lived with the 30-year-old alleged victim and her 5-year-old daughter. Prosecutors claim the defendants imprisoned the mother and daughter in the basement and then on the second floor of their apartment, letting them out only to perform household tasks or to go to the store.
Federal prosecutors detail horrors in enslavement case - In the federal government’s trial brief, prosecutors say the defendants were initially kind to the alleged victim and eventually began treating her “as their possession,” going so far as to take her government assistant money and forcing her to do household tasks.
Callahan’s lawyers say victim paid couple to live with them - Attorneys for Jordie L. Callahan, 26, of Ashland, plan to present evidence showing the alleged victim wanted to live with the couple and offered to pay for rent and food.
Hunt’s defense says forced labor charge misused - Attorneys for Jessica L. Hunt, 31, of Ashland, in their trial brief say they plan to show the charges against their client were historically used in cases of imprisonment of undocumented immigrants and are being misused in this case.

Trial Updates

Editor’s note: Following is testimony given during the labor trafficking conspiracy trial against Jessica L. Hunt, 31, and Jordie L. Callahan, 26, both of Ashland. The case is being heard in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Youngstown. The couple is also charged with theft of government-issued funds. All charges involve alleged crimes against a 30-year-old mentally challenged woman and her 5-year-old daughter.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Jessica L. Hunt and Jordie L. Callahan, defendants in the Ashland enslavement case, have been found guilty on three of the five counts: conspiracy, forced labor (including the sentencing enhancement for kidnapping) and obtaining a controlled substance by deception). The couple were found not guilty of theft of government benefits and witness tampering. Hunt and Callahan could each receive a life sentence because the jury determined the forced labor charge to include kidnapping. Callahan’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 22 at 11 a.m. Hunt’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 24 at 11 a.m. Both hearings will be held before Judge Benita Pearson in Youngstown.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Judge Benita Pearson released the jury nearly two hours early to discuss a motion hearing with the attorneys.

The jury won’t return until 11 a.m. tomorrow.

Prosecution rested their case today. Defense may put Jessica Hunt on the stand tomorrow.

Crystal White, who lived with Jordie Callahan, Jessica Hunt and the alleged victim, before they moved to 509 W. Main St. in Ashland, said Hunt and Callahan asked her to lie to investigators in May 2013.

Testifying this morning in U.S. district court in Youngstown, White said, “(Hunt) wanted me to come in here and lie to you guys about stuff,” she said. “(Callahan) said that something bad would happen if I didn’t come to court for them.”

Friday, Feb. 28, Testimony

Daniel Brown, 33, a codefendant in the trial of Jessica L. Hunt, 31, and Jordie L. Callahan, 26, testified Friday that Hunt and Callahan each referred to the alleged victim as “my bank.”
Brown pleaded guilty to conspiracy for aiding Hunt and Callahan. That charge carries a maximum sentence of 5 years.

Thursday, Feb. 27, Testimony

Derek Lawrence, an upstairs neighbor in the triplex at 509 W. Main St. in Ashland, called the Ashland County Health Department on March 24, 2012, and told officials that Jessica L. Hunt, 31, and Jordie L. Callahan, 26, were allegedly abusing a woman and her child. The complaint was referred to child services.
No testimony yet given about a follow up investigation.

Wednesday, Feb. 26, Testimony

Donald Butler, the defense attorney for Jordie Callahan, 26, asked if the alleged victim, known in court documents as S.E., wanted to get back at Callahan and Jessica Hunt, 31, for showing police the video of her striking her daughter. That video ultimately resulted in Child Protective Services taking her daughter away.
“Yes,” S.E. said.
Defense attorney asked, “Isn’t it true that if Jordie Callahan had not shown the police that video, we wouldn’t be here today?”
“Yes,” S.E. said.

Monday, Feb.24, Testimony

Prosecution witness Debora Brooks testified Monday, Feb. 24, she sold Vicodin to Jessica Hunt from 2011-2012. She also testified that the alleged victim’s personality changed during the two years she lived with Hunt and co-defendant Jordie Callahan. Brooks testified she knew the alleged victim since about 2006 and saw her regularly in 2009. During that time, the victim “was always in good spirits,” Brooks said. By 2012, Brooks said the alleged victim was “really jumpy” and rarely spoke to her. “I swear to god, she wasn’t the same person,” Brooks testified.

Friday, Feb. 21, Testimony

During the defense cross examination of prosecution witness Dezerah Silsby, 21, says she’s “not really sure” whether she waived her right to an attorney when police first questioned her about the case in March 2012.
“I didn’t think I needed one. I was never told I needed one,” she said.

Dezerah Silsby, 21, testifies Friday, Feb. 21, that she “slammed” the hand of the alleged victim with a rock as part of a plan to get pain medicine from the local emergency room.
Silsby pleaded guilty under a sealed plea agreement to aiding the couple.
During her testimony, Silsby said the idea to get the pain medicine originated with the alleged victim, known as S.E. in court documents.
“(S.E) and I were just trying to get (the defendants) to stop fighting,” Silsby said.

Thursday, Feb. 20, Testimony

Allen Redmon, a service technician for Armstrong cable service, describes the alleged victim as looking “very dirty” during a service call to the home Aug. 15, 2012. “There was dirt on her arms, dirt on her clothes,” Redmon said.
While transferring cable service from couple’s previous apartment in the same building, Redmon says he discovered a small television monitor showing images from an adjacent room, where the mother and child lay on the floor.
“When I turned it on, the little girl was looking right at the camera,” Redmon testifies. “The lady had no expression whatsoever.”

Charles McPheeters, the maintenance man at the apartment complex, testifies to the condition of the basement, saying there was a mattress in one corner amid dirty clothes, trash and human feces. Also, he said there was a “urine smell.”

Christina Coffy, a clinical coordinator of the emergency room at Samaritan Regional Health System, testifies the alleged victim visited the ER nine times from 2010 to 2012. The woman’s injuries included finger, knee and hip pain; abrasions; bruises and an open wound that hospital records say was delivered by a BB gun, Coffy said.
Coffy also testifies the defendants were two “of our frequent visitors,” having visited the ER nearly 30 times combined. She tells a reporter she suspected drug-seeking behavior.

Dezerah Silsby, 21, who had pleaded guilty to aiding Hunt and Callahan, describes her relationship with the couple.
“Helping became a demand,” Silsby said. “They didn’t ask me for help. They just told me I had to do it. I started helping do her laundry. Then it became I had to do it.”
“She (Hunt) threatened me … to get my kid taken away or hurt my mom,” Silsby said.

Related Links

Ashland Trio Indicted for Labor Trafficking and Other Crimes – FBI Press Release

Two Witnesses Testify At Forced Labor Trial – Ashland Times Gazette

Couple ‘kept woman and young daughter as slaves for Two Years, forced her to beat her own daughter and kept them in line with snakes and pit bulls’

Federal prosecutors lay out case against Ashland couple accused of forcing woman into slavery – Cleveland.com

Horrors of small town domestic slavery case to be presented today in Youngstown federal courtroom – Cleveland.com

Woman Pleads Guilty In Forced Labor Case – Ashland Times Gazette

Slave Labor Defendant Daniel J. Brown III Enters Guilty Plea

Federal Indictments Returned In Forced Labor Case

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