White Adoptive Parents Arrested For Forcing Their Black Children To Work As Slaves

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abandoned shed - adoptive parents
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Well-off white adoptive parents from West Virginia are behind bars for forcing their black children to endure slavery-like conditions.

Adopted parents  in handcuffs after unconscionable actions

Donald Ray Lantz, 63, and Jeanne Kay Whitefeather, 62, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to over a dozen serious charges arising from the deplorable October discovery of their five adopted children living in horrendous conditions.

The children, aged 6, 9, 11, 14, and 16, were found in abominable circumstances at the couple’s Sissonville residence.

One of the worst indictments Kanawha County Circuit Judge Maryclaire Akers has ever seen alleges that the couple targeted these children due to their race, forcing them to work on their farmland like slaves.

“It alleges human trafficking, human rights violations, the use of forced labor,” Akers remarked.

“Human rights violations specific to the fact that these children were targeted because of their race and they were used basically as slaves from what the indictment alleges.”

Lantz and Whitefeather face multiple charges, including human trafficking of a minor child, child neglect causing substantial risk of serious bodily harm or death, and the use of a minor child in forced labor.

Adoptive parents abhorrent abuse revealed

The couple’s horrific abuse came to light following a neighbor’s call to local authorities reporting that two teenagers were being locked in a dilapidated shed on the property, court documents detailed.

“Neighbors also reported that the children were forced to perform farm labor and were not permitted inside the residence,” the filing read.

Law enforcement discovered a 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl locked inside the ramshackle shed, which was only equipped with a small RV porta-potty but lacked lights or running water.

One of the children revealed they had been confined for 12 hours and had not been fed during that period.

The teenagers were forced to sleep on the concrete floor without mattresses, wearing filthy clothes and emitting strong body odor, according to police observations.

The teenage girl wore shoes, while the boy had “open sores on his bare feet,” as documented in court filings.

The criminal complaint emphasized the danger of their circumstances, noting, “If there was a medical emergency or fire, the children would be unable to exit the locked room to safety.”

A 9-year-old girl was also discovered inside the main house by police. Three hours later, Lantz came home with an 11-year-old boy, followed by Whitefeather with a 6-year-old girl who had been with friends. Child Protective Services immediately took custody of all the children.

Whitefeather claimed the two teens, who were “home-schooled,” enjoyed being in the shed, referring to it as a “clubhouse.”

But the children painted a horrifying picture of the ongoing abuses at both the West Virginia home and their previous residence in Washington state, which the couple had abandoned.

Prosecutors revealed evidence that the disgraceful couple relocated from Washington after learning they were under investigation for abuse and neglect.

Kanawha County Sheriff’s deputies had received similar complaints about the couple in May and September 2023.

However, they found no wrongdoing during visits to the home, observing the children inside the residence and dining on one occasion.

Judge reverses wealthy adoptive parents bonds

Judge Akers increased their bond after prosecutors argued that their original cash bonds that they posted, totaling $400,000, were likely obtained through profits made by human trafficking.

“Along with human trafficking and neglect was serious risk of bodily injuries or death, I don’t find the bond to be sufficient,” Akers stated. “It alleges human trafficking, human rights violations, the use of forced labor.”

“Human rights violations specific to the fact that these children were targeted because of their race and they were used basically as slaves from what the indictment alleges,” Akers added.

Kanawha County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Krivonyak disclosed that the couple sold an 80-acre ranch in Tonasket, Washington, for $725,000 on February 2, after their arrests.

Whitefeather’s brother posted two $200,000 bonds to secure their release from the South Central Regional Jail three days later.

On March 28, the embattled couple sold the Sissonville, West Virginia home where they were had been residing for $295,000.

Prosecutors contended that even if the bond money was obtained from a legitimate source, its planned use was for human trafficking and forced labor.

Krivonyak urged the court to transfer the bond money to a trust fund for the children. Following the bond increase to $500,000 each, Lantz and Whitefeather were taken back into custody.

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